Week 2: Storytelling: Rapid Transformation

By: Kelsey Lake, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

Last week, the newness of RYSA was a lot for everyone to take in! It definitely took some time for everyone to warm up to one another. Many students were shy, others stood out as natural leaders, and everybody was trying to learn so many new names!

As Week 2 comes to a close, I can confidently say that the students of RYSA have moved through that stage! They are boldly stepping into a new phase of more confident exploration and creative risk-taking in the classroom, and this thrilling new energy has led to some beautiful breakthroughs in Storytelling class.

One student’s rapid transformation sticks out clearly in my mind.

Last week, one boy (let’s call him M) came into class and did his very best to hide. He shrunk away from our silly warm ups; if he started raising his hand, he’d catch himself, his hand shooting back down again. Once, when he did speak up, his frustration with finding the English words to express his idea made him hide his head in his hands and back into the corner of the room. Marcus and I could see him following what was going on, and knew he had all sorts of thoughts and feelings about class, but we struggled to find an opportunity that could help him shine.

Then, this past Tuesday, something completely unexpected and delightful happened. Halfway through the class, it was time to “wake up” Sparkles and Spellzy, our puppet friends who have helped us learn so much about the power of imagination.

“How can we wake up and welcome Sparkles and Spellzy?” we asked.

M raised his hand! Marcus and I were thrilled to see he wanted to participate and quickly called on him.

And then, out of NOWHERE, M started to sing. He came up with a fun, short song to help wake Sparkles and Spellzy, belting it out confidently in front of the entire class. It was brilliant! We asked him to teach it to the rest of the class, and it became a fun new way to bring the puppets into the room.

Since then, M’s light has been shining so brightly. He offers creative ideas, gets up in front of his classmates to act out silly skits, and sticks it out when he struggles to find words for what’s going on in that creative mind of his!

Alongside M, we’ve seen many students take their scattered, incredibly high energies and focus them into leadership roles. Other students are taking their English language acquisition to the next level by volunteering to read our stories out loud with growing confidence! It’s incredible to see how quickly these students are learning to trust their own voices and imaginations; they all have such unique, riveting stories to tell, and I can’t wait to hear them.






Announcement: 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship Recipients

ASTEP is thrilled to announce that Kelsey Lake and Marcus Guy have been selected as recipients of the 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship!

The Fellows will be joining a team of 17 ASTEP Teaching Artists, who will lead the creative arts classes at the six-week International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy, using the arts to build English language skills, school readiness, and coping and self-regulation skills within this vulnerable and underserved population——tools they need to thrive in school and to help build a new life in their new home.

The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenger Fellowship gives this unique opportunity to individuals who closely model Jennifer’s personal values and skill set and ensures newly arrived refugee youth will experience the transforming power of the arts, much as the arts impacted Jen’s life.


Human stories are ongoing, being picked up by one person where another leaves off. It is a great honor to carry on Jennifer’s enthusiasm & skill as a storyteller and use it to inspire a new generation of young voices. The baton passes on, and I commit to working with compassion, vitality and spirit in Jennifer’s name, as Kelsey and I interact with many young students this summer. Thank-you! – Marcus Crawford Guy, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow


I am truly honored and moved to help further Jennifer’s legacy through this generous fellowship and my work at RYSA this summer. I promise to appreciate each moment, dream big, and grasp every opportunity to bring the joy of creativity to my students. Thank you so, so much for your generosity and belief in ASTEP’s mission! – Kelsey Lake, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

TAKE ACTION this summer to support immigrant + migrant youth

This summer, ASTEP will send two Guest Artists to support Art-in-Action in partnership with enFAMILIA. This 4-week arts summer camp is for elementary and middle school students in South Florida. Primarily coming from low-income, immigrant and migrant families, students at Art-in-Action learn not only the arts, but healthy relationship skills, nutrition basics, stress and anger management, and confidence to be the best possible versions of themselves.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: ASAP
DATES: June 12 – July 15, 2017
(training starts on June 12, camp begins on June 19)
WHERE: Homestead, Florida
WHO: All artists! We need a diverse team!

** Airfare, room and board are provided by ASTEP and enFAMILIA for all Volunteer Artists
** Email Aaron Rossini at aaron@asteponline.org or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more!

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: Rockstar Volunteer Rosco Spears, Visual Artist

roscoLast September, I had the opportunity to join the ASTEP team headed to Shanti Bhavan in India as a visual arts teacher during a two week arts camp. Those weeks on the ground changed my life! I had no idea that it was even possible to fall in love with so many different souls in just a week. I also didn’t go into teaching at SB thinking that I would learn so much from my students. They taught me how to be joyful, grateful, considerate, open, innovative and so much more.

The students were so driven, well-behaved, and willing to try new things. These students are a part of a completely different culture than mine, but they had the biggest hearts and were some of the coolest kids I’ve ever hung out with. This was my first time visiting India, and the staff and students of SB made me feel right at home.

Aside from working with the brilliant students of SB and their kind staff, I learned so much from my co-teachers and volunteers that lead the program with me. We participated in a plethora of different team building exercises including meditation, group lesson planning, photo challenges, writing exercises, and more that enhanced my teaching and leadership skills a great deal. Spending time at SB has made me a better teacher, a better mentor, a better team-player and a better student.

rosco2

If there are any artists looking to impact a beautiful group of students while learning just as much as you are teaching, SB is a haven of peace that will love you as much as you will love it.

Rosco was part of ASTEP’s Fall Arts Camp at Shanti Bhavan in September 2016.

** Email Aaron Rossini at aaron@asteponline.org or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more about the volunteer experience.




Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship

Jen play

ASTEP is honored to announce that the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship is now accepting applications for 2017 summer programming. This Fellowship will take place from July 1 – August 18 2017 in the position of a storytelling/theatre Teaching Artist at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in New York City.

For the eighth consecutive summer, ASTEP will support the 2017 Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. ASTEP designs, implements, and oversees RYSA’s creative arts classes, which focus on visual art, dance, music, and storytelling for 120- 130 refugee youth aged 5-25 years old. RYSA is a six-week summer camp, held five days a week from July – August; from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and culminates in a graduation ceremony and performance for students’ families and their community.

The Fellow will be joining a team of 16 ASTEP Teaching Artists, who will lead the creative arts classes at RYSA. This Fellow will work to build English language skills, school readiness, coping and self-regulation skills within this vulnerable and underserved population——tools they need to thrive in school and to help build a new life in their new home. The Fellowship responsibilities include:

  • Curriculum building and lesson planning for three (3) classes, each to meet twice weekly.
  • Planning and teaching age-appropriate and culturally-appropriate lessons that focus on English Language skill building, school readiness, and the development of soft skills.
  • Preparing a 2-4 minute performance piece in each class, or for visual art, preparing a showcase of student artwork, to be shared at graduation on August 18.
  • Regular collaboration and communication with IRC and ASTEP staff members for a cohesive camp experience.
  • Support and implementation of camp-wide behavior management techniques in the classroom.
  • Support and implementation of both ASTEP and IRC methodology and pedagogical techniques in the classroom.
  • Implementation of ASTEP evaluation tools in the classroom.
  • Full participation in ASTEP and IRC training sessions.
  • Full participation in ASTEP post-program surveys.
  • Weekly blog post to share experience with the ASTEP community.

Applicants must have experience in teaching English Language Learners, teaching in a school environment, and teaching art in culturally diverse classrooms. This Fellowship requires complete commitment and artists must be available for all training and camp days.

The Fellow must be available for the following dates:

  • ASTEP Team Training: July 1-2, 2017 (tentative)
  • RYSA Training: July 5-7, 2017 (tentative)
  • RYSA Dates: July 10 – August 18, 2017

From July 10 – August 18, the Fellow will teach six (6) hours per week and should plan to spend at least ten (10) hours per week on site.

The accepted Fellow will receive a stipend and materials/supplies budget.

This Fellowship is named after Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger, 1976-2016, a loving soul who valued the arts. She inspired everyone she met with her quick wit, compassion for others and passion for the dramatic arts. Jennifer’s love for drama started early in life in Kansas City when at the age of four, her mom took her to the musical, Annie. The live stage and sound of music captured her heart, and the thrill of the theatre and her admiration for all things related to drama was a hallmark of her life.

The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenger Fellowship gives this unique opportunity to someone who closely models Jen’s personal values and skill set and ensures newly arrived refugee youth will experience the transforming power of the arts, much as the arts impacted Jen’s life.

If you are interested in applying for the Fellowship, please complete the ASTEP Volunteer Artist Application, making note that you would like to be considered for the Fellowship.

** Email Aaron Rossini at aaron@asteponline.org or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more!

Deadline to apply is: April 15, 2017




Bring the power of the arts to refugee youth

For our an eighth consecutive summer, ASTEP is teaming up with the Refugee Youth Summer Academy, a 6-week summer camp that focuses on welcoming newly arrived refugee youth to their new life in NYC and giving them the tools that they need to thrive. A team of 16 ASTEP Teaching Artists will lead performing and visual arts classes to develop skills for 120-130 refugee youth, including school readiness, comfort with the English language, increased coping skills and a greater sense of community in their new home.

Tentative Program Dates: July 10 – August 18, 2017
Tentative ASTEP Team Training: July 1-2, 2017 
Tentative RYSA Training: July 5-7, 2017 
Application deadline: April 15, 2017
Location: New York City
Who: All artists! We need a diverse team and hope that you are a part of it!

** Email Aaron Rossini at aaron@asteponline.org or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more!

“ASTEP’s arts classes at RYSA give children who may be struggling with academics the opportunity to shine, build their confidence, and develop a positive outlook towards school.”
— Courtney Liu, Upper School Dance Teacher, ASTEP Volunteer Artist 2016






Be the Change You Want to See in 2017

Step outside of your comfort zone and make a difference in the world this year with ASTEP. This spring, we are sending a team of Volunteer Artists to Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in Southern India to deliver a multi-week arts camp that focuses on visual and performing arts including music, filmmaking, dance, and musical theatre.

ASTEP believes poverty is defined by a lack of choice. Our team of Teaching Artists, along with the faculty and staff at Shanti Bhavan, use their art, their passion, and their talents to teach students that they have the power to make choices in their lives.

We will show our students that their ideas have value and that they are capable of making positive transformations in their country, their communities, and their world. By bringing arts education and application to these students from India’s lowest castes, we are able to provide them with the space and time to practice communication, collaboration, empathy, and creativity: all skills necessary to live and thrive in a world where their voices matter.

Dates: May 24 – June 12
Application deadline: February 25, 2017 (EXTENDED)
Location: Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project just outside of Bangalore
Who: All artists! We need a diverse team and hope that you are a part of it!

** Room and board is provided by ASTEP and Shanti Bhavan for all Volunteer Artists
** Email Aaron Rossini at aaron@asteponline.org or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more!

 

“One of the best things about volunteering at SB was waking up every morning and starting my day with the preschoolers. They are so playful, smart, and filled with smiles; they overwhelmed me with joy every single day. ”
–Kaila Galinat, ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artist

‘Tis the season for ASTEP’s benefit concert

300_nychristmas_hi-resIt’s that time of year to kick off the holiday season with the 8th Annual New York City Christmas: A Concert to Benefit ASTEP!

Conceived, produced and music directed by Drama Desk-nominated orchestrator Lynne Shankel (Cry-Baby, Altar Boyz, Allegiance), the evening will feature Broadway’s most sought-after talent singing fresh, original approaches—pop, soul, R&B, rock and more—of holiday songs off ‘New York City Christmas’ the album, available for purchase at the concert.

Date: Mon December 12
Time: 7:00PM
Location: Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre

Tickets are on sale NOW!
$75 for regular tickets
$100 for premium tickets

The concert will again boast an incredible line-up of artists, including Kate Baldwin (Big Fish, Finian’s Rainbow) Sierra Boggess (School of Rock, The Little Mermaid), Chester Gregory (Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Hairspray), David Josefsberg (Honeymoon In Vegas, The Wedding Singer, Altar Boyz), Lindsay Mendez (Wicked, Godspell, Everyday Rapture), Derek Klena (Wicked, Carrie), Kenita Miller (Merrily We Roll Along, Ragtime), Lauren Pritchard (Spring Awakening), Kay Trinidad (The Little Mermaid, Bare), Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town, Million Dollar Quartet, Company), recording artist Anya Singleton, Helen White and many more. The concert will be directed by Stafford Arima (Allegiance, Bare: The Musical, Carrie).

Also appearing will be musicians Shankel (on piano), Joe Mowatt (drums/percussion), Randy Landau (bass), Peter Calo (guitar), Jim Hershman (guitars), Max Mosten (violin), Summer Boggess (cello), Colin Brigstocke (trumpet), Scott Kreitzer (saxophone) and Jeff Schiller (saxophone).

ALL proceeds from tickets to the show and album sales will support ASTEP’s mission of connecting performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the U.S. and around the world. Together, we give kids access to the transforming power of the arts!










ASTEP receives Equity Foundation’s Paul Robeson Award


Equity Foundation’s 2016 Paul Robeson Award
Goes to Artists Striving To End Poverty

 

New York, NY, September 27, 2016–Artists Striving To End Poverty (ASTEP), a nonprofit organization founded by Broadway musical director, conductor, orchestrator and musician Mary-Mitchell Campbell, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors Equity Foundation.

Created in 1971, the award honors individuals or organizations that best exemplify and practice the principles to which Mr. Robeson devoted his life: dedication to the universal brotherhood of all humankind, commitment to the freedom of conscience and of expression, belief in the artist’s responsibility to society, respect for the dignity of the individual and concerns for and service to all humans of any race or nationality. The award was voted on by members of the Actors’ Equity Paul Robeson Committee, chaired by Allyson Tucker Mitchell.

ASTEP joins a distinguished list of previous award winners, including Paul Robeson, Maya Angelou, Alice Childress, Jacques D’Amboise, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Athol Fugard, James Earl Jones, Joe Papp, Sidney Poitier and George C. Wolfe.

ASTEP was conceived by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and students at Juilliard, where she was on the faculty from 2003-2009 and continues to conduct workshops, with a mission “to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.” Among its many programs, ASTEP runs a six-week summer arts academy for refugees, provides volunteers in a nursing home to work with kids in Washington Heights, focuses on children with HIV and other health challenges, as well as conducting performance workshops in homeless shelters and community centers, all run by a network of dedicated volunteers.

A major fund-raiser is planned for December 12, 2016 as ASTEP’s Annual Christmas Concert will be held at Joe’s Pub in downtown Manhattan.

“We are so incredibly honored to be given this award, and we are grateful to the many artists that have volunteered with us and continue to work toward creating better lives for young people,” says Campbell, who continues to serve as ASTEP’s Executive Director.

When not at ASTEP, Campbell has a busy musical career. Broadway shows for which she has served as Music Director and/or conductor include The Addams Family, Company, Tuck Everlasting, Finding Neverland and My Love Letter to Broadway, Kristin Chenoweth’s upcoming limited engagement concert at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

The Paul Robeson Award will be presented at 2pm on Monday, October 24, 2016 at the Eastern Regional Membership Meeting of Actors’ Equity Association in the Council Room on the 14th Floor of the Equity Building, 165 West 46th Street in New York City.

The Actors Equity Foundation, a philanthropic and humanitarian nonprofit organization, was created in 1962 to aid and assist the members of the acting profession and to promote the theatre arts. It is separate from Actors’ Equity Association and is funded by estate bequests and individual donations.

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Be a part of a new Elite Fellowship in India

We are excited to announce a new, elite opportunity to work with ASTEP as a full time music teacher at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in rural India!

Teaching Artists in this position will lead general music education classes for primary school students in grades Pre K through fourth, and will lead choir rehearsals for upper school students. Teaching Artists will also organize and facilitate private lesson for students in a variety of instruments. All applicants should feel comfortable teaching piano and voice lessons to beginning and intermediate level students.

This position will be available year-round, but to be considered for placement in July, August, September or October, applications must be received by Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

To be considered for this position, please send a completed ASTEP Volunteer Application and current resume to lizzy@asteponline.org.

The accepted fellow must be available to teach for a minimum of 3 months, and will receive $800 towards their flight purchase and a stipend of $500 per month. Room and board is provided on site.

We look forward to hearing from you!






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