Randolph Elementary School in West Englewood welcomed three different teaching artists to their after-school program in fall 2015; Amansu Eason, Zahra Baker, and Kevin Brown each brought expertise in a different artistic discipline, giving 5th through 8th grade after-school students the opportunity to explore multiple facets of creativity.
Amansu, a dance artist, focused on dances of African Diaspora, using the question “Why do we dance?” to frame his residency. Zahra is a musician who also performs with Urban Gateways touring show “Circle of Song”; she knows all about the history and artistry behind African American a cappella music, and she formed an African American Choral Ensemble with her after-school students. Zahra incorporated talent shows to build student confidence as well as lessons about African American history for broader context. The third teaching artist, Kevin Brown, is a master of rhythm and percussion who used everyday objects (like buckets and sticks) to teach Randolph students about rhythm; their musical endeavors involved both solos and collaboration.
Confidence, teamwork, and the arts as social commentary were prominent themes through all three residencies, giving Randolph students the opportunity not only to grow in these areas but to reinforce that growth across disciplines.
“I am so excited to be a part of their musical development and to provide a safe creative space for them to discover the talents of their peers and themselves,” said Zahra.