My name is Samantha Gelbert and I am a senior in college studying Psychology. In the summer of 2016, I was an intern for Community-Word Project. I was able to return to CWP during my winter break where I had the opportunity to visit schools during their residencies.
I visited M.S.129 with Teaching Artists Javier Baca and Melissa Shaw and P.S./M.S. 279 with Teaching Artists Scott Lilly and Mary Cinadr. When I walked into each of the classrooms, I was immediately impressed with how engaged all of the students were in the lessons.
The classes at 129 were working on how to improve word choice in their writing. They then created movement pieces for each revised poem. At 279, the students were learning about folk songs that related to the Erie Canal, which they are studying in New York State History. They learned the song in preparation to write their own folk songs in the coming weeks; then, they created tableaus, which are still performance scenes, to represent events similar to the lyrics from “Erie Canal”.
Although some students were shy at first, they were all willing to perform the movement, dance, and theatre activities that the TAs prepared. When I had the chance to interview some of the students, I learned that they really value their time with CWP. These visits are the highlight of their days, and as Ava at PS/MS 279 said, “Community-Word Project is my favorite subject.” CWP is fun for the students, but more than that, the students are aware that they are learning valuable lessons and skills that complement what they are learning throughout the rest of their school day.
CWP residencies instill such a strong sense of confidence and importance in the students and have a great way of bringing these kids out of their shells and allowing them to grow in a judgment-free zone. CWP exposes students to all art forms and I was most impressed by the student excellence in theatre, movement, and dance, which I was not as exposed to at their age. I would have loved for CWP to visit my elementary or middle school and I hope that the residencies continue to inspire students for many years to come. It was an honor to visit these schools and witness the projects that the students were so eager to work on.