Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Year: Old Problems, New Programs

It's that incredibly disturbing trick of time. If you've been around for more than a couple of decades, you know what I mean. The older you get, the faster time passes.

We are three weeks into the school year already, and interim progress reports will be due in two more weeks.

Because this is Cleveland, I dare not even enter names in my district issued grade book yet, as my class rosters continue to change daily. In fact, three weeks ago I only had four classes listed on my schedule, a fifth class was added last week, and the principal informed me yesterday I will be teaching a sixth class, probably starting next week. When I was a rookie Cleveland teacher 19 years ago, I was told to keep a temporary roster and not even attempt to enter names in my grade book until after ADM week (the first full week of October) since the teacher and student shuffle in the district never subsides until all bodies are accounted for and redistributed. The same holds true today. I wonder if this happens in all big city districts, or if this annual lack of organization is unique to Cleveland.

I have now been officially hired as the director of the All City Arts Program Atelier, a consultant position that will keep me busy after school, and occasionally, on weekends. The Atelier is being designed as an extra-curricular (after-school/weekend) activity for talented high school students throughout the district. The idea is to partner with community arts organizations across the city to provide visual arts experiences for students that they cannot get in a regular classroom.

This month we will be having two planning meetings; the first with all the CMSD high school teachers and the second with the arts community. These will be brainstorming sessions where we will introduce the program, discuss possibilities, identify potential partners, and envision how the arts can help create a new future for Cleveland. Anyone who is interested in participating in this discussion please email me, and I will send you more information.

The Atelier was kicked-off this summer with a pilot program, entitled Atelier Summer Intensive. Sponsored by the Human Fund , and launched in collaboration with two community arts organizations - Passport Project on Cleveland’s east side and Art House on the west side of the city - students traveled to Pittsburgh in July to visit the Mattress factory and the Warhol Museum. In the three weeks following the trip, they worked with artists on photography and printmaking projects, inspired by the work of Andy Warhol. Artists Jen Craun and Laura Webb shared their lesson plans with CMSD high school teachers so that other students in the district could also participate in the Warhol inspired projects. Selected student work will be auctioned in October along with original artwork by Andy Warhol at the Human Fund annual benefit gala.

Next week , PBS channels 45 and 49 will be sending a TV crew to my classroom to film part of a story on the Human Fund. Some folks love to be on TV; not me. I agreed to the interview, even though I really hate being in front of the camera. I'm very self conscious, and never watch or listen to tapes of any interviews I've ever done, at least if I can avoid it. The segment is scheduled to air October 11th, 12th, and 13th . So if you want to, go ahead and check it out...I'm planning on being busy not watching TV.


Shannon said...

Hi MaryBeth! If you're interested in discussing any fiber arts possibilities for the kids, let me know. I'm sure we can do something through Stitch Cleveland!

marybeth said...


Thanks, I'd love to talk with you. Atelier will be meeting with the arts community Thursday September 27th, 4:00 - 5:30 at Trinity Commons. Please send me an email and I will send you an invitation. You can reach me at mb.matthews@yahoo.com