Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oak Park Residency - Part II

I’d like to revisit my residency at Oak Park River Forest High School as it has just come to a close and it’s a wonderful opportunity for reflection.  There are so many directions I could take this post in but for now, I’ll focus my energies on telling you about one of my students – Angelic.
Angelic lost her mother to complications due to epilepsy and diabetes within the last few years and it has been tremendously hard on her. Her mom was her best friend and confidante and someone she relied on during hard times to see her through. Angelic came to the residency because she wanted to “release her pain, feel heard, and be around people who could really relate."

When asked to “share their stories” in class, Angelic got creative and sang a Boyz II Men song, “A Song For Mama” as a tribute to her mom. Everyone in the group was overcome with emotion as she did this. It was incredibly touching to watch her peers surround her with support and hugs in response. Angelic really “set the stage”, if you will, for the other students to share in a meaningful and mature way.

Another thing that Angelic did that really led the way was with a writing activity we did. Students were asked to share their life stories as either a “fairy tale” or a “superheroes' journey” and encouraged to include the following:
  • The element of magic/fantasy 
  • The element of transformation 
  • A problem that needs to be solved 
  • A person/entity who gives the hero magical assistance, often after testing him/her. 
Angelic had been having problems that day with a particular teacher and decided to use her fairy tale as a way of finding a solution. Through the writing process, she came up with an idea, which she pursued, and the issue ended up getting resolved! It was amazing to see her use her imagination and the power of storytelling to “write” her way into an empowered future!

Add to that, now Angelic wants to volunteer her time to be part of one of ETD’s upcoming residencies. This way she can help future students express themselves too and see that there is light in the darkness.

A pretty amazing young woman!

I feel a lot of times like young people get a bad rap. Next time, you are around a youth, remember Angelic and know that behind their eyes, exists someone willing to sing her heart out and write a new future for all of us.



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