Grace Lee: Teaching Artist in Training Part I


I learned about Community-Word Project’s Teaching Artist Training and Internship Program (TATIP) the way I learn about most opportunities these days: Facebook. As a freelance writer who was relatively new to New York, I was seeking part-time work that would enhance my writing. I thought teaching would be ideal.

I was especially interested in getting training and experience working with elerly and incarcerated populations. I had worked with both groups previously, which ignited my desire to bring arts education to underserved populations.

I had taught writing but without any formal training. My previous experience was in nonprofits, public health, and research. It was not in the world of the arts. I was curious to learn about the life of a NYC teaching artist, including how to find work in the field. I was excited by TATIP’s internship component, as I sought experience working in the NYC public school system.

I am from a working-class, immigrant family where the arts were dismissed as a luxury reserved for the wealthy, not a viable career path. At a very young age I began writing stories but I did it secretly. I started playing classical music at four. I also had a performing arts background and attended a music conservatory in my teens. But it never occurred to me to pursue art professionally. My family thought these extracurricular activities would stop as soon as I was accepted into an Ivy League school in pre-med or pre-law. Instead, I obtained a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and graduate degrees in Public Health and Latin American studies.

Writing professionally started in my early thirties. I had a late start. I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to catch up on the years lost. I am fortunate and grateful to receive a scholarship from CWP to complete the teaching artist training.