I walked into the Arts Corps office the day after Labor Day, our first day of AmeriCorps orientation, to an enthusiastic, “hi, you’re here! In the flesh!” from Moni. Yes, I am here, in Seattle, working with Arts Corps on the Creative Schools Initiative at Orca K-8. Moni’s exclamation was not only welcoming, it was a confirmation that this isn’t just a dream. I have recently moved to Seattle from the Twin Cities, where I was born, raised, and formally educated. I am beyond stoked to be here, learning about the Seattle arts scene, the public education system, and how to effectively integrate creative and critical thinking (Arts Corps’ Creative Habits of Mind) into curriculum devised by teachers at partner schools and Arts Corps teaching artists.
Orientation for my year with Arts Corps was a balance of professional development and community building with my three other AmeriCorps colleagues, Amy, Moni, and Shelby. We shared our journey to art and youth work, played a “speed friending” game with the Arts Corps staff, had conversations about adultism, and were visited by a few guests throughout the week! One of the highlights for me was a visit from Lauren Atkinson, an Arts Corps teaching artist. She lead an activity that prompted us to think about – and express through fabric and textiles- what makes us effective Teaching Artists.
We worked in teams of two based on our jobs for the year, so Amy and I, the Creative Schools Initiative AmeriCorps members, worked together to figure out 1.) what our strategies for youth development and facilitation are, and 2.) how we could turn that into a clever name, which was actually the hardest part, and 3.) how to represent that in a finger puppet.
My individual list of superheroine powers looks like this:
• Supreme Wrap – can open and wrap up a superb session
• Aura-lizer – listens actively and while exuding a positive vibe
• HERE-oine- is present and engaged in the activity or project
• InergyOutergy – enthusiasm to translate internal motivations into real outcomes
• Perspective Prisms- my greatest individual asset is making sure all perspectives are heard before making a decision, responding to a question, or moving forward.
So, Amy and I worked out our individual and group process by first diving in and not thinking about what our puppets were actually going to be. We quickly realized this was not the best way to go about it. Amy is a very thoughtful, methodical worker, so she helped me take a step back, reassess what the heck we were producing, got our ducks in a row, and then made our puppets. Our puppets turned out to be more like us dressed up as superheroines. That’s us– putting our own spin on a project, modeling risk-taking and imagination like pros.
Here’s to a great year! – Liz