It’s a joy to introduce myself as a second-year teaching artist for APTP@School, our school-based program. Some of you may remember me as one of the performers who made a cow come to life on stage in Feast or as a high-school student trying to solve his father’s immigration problems in Learning Curve. These are both treasured roles of mine from my years as a teen ensemble member in APTP. Now nearly a decade after my APTP journey first began, I’m excited to once again be part of this wonderful team of humans!
APTP@School spreads the fun and heart of APTP into our neighborhood’s schools while inspiring youth power and youth engagement in the community. We offer workshops with students in classrooms that focus on ensemble building, discovering the artist within, believing that you and your peers’ stories matter, and devising performances based on those stories.
This month, APTP@School returned in person to three partner schools: Albany Park Multicultural, Volta Elementary and Von Steuben High School. Our teaching artist team – Maggie Popadiak, Miguel Rodriguez and I – will meet with more than 400 students either weekly or biweekly throughout this school year.
APTP@School is excited to return in person, but I also want to acknowledge the APTP staff, our teaching partners and especially the students that kept our program alive in a year when classes were almost entirely remote. Maggie and I met virtually with nearly 400 students in three schools throughout the 2020-21 school year. Challenged by the lack of proximity to students and the everyday stressors that are present with e-learning, we invented ways to innovatively shift our curriculum and energy into the virtual world. Much of our work took the form of reflecting, writing, sharing and having conversations about how we were all impacted by the pandemic, social unrest across the world, the election and other events. Together with our students and teaching partners we were able to create a virtual space that held trust, care and excitement in our classes. One of our activities asked students to create personal mantras that would bring positivity into their lives. During our sharings students were appreciative of each other for their vulnerability and honesty and expressed support and relatability.
This year, I look forward to connecting with students in-person and engaging them in activities and practices that help them reflect on their experiences. One important thing I took away from last year is that there are many young people who are looking to express themselves in ways that are not normally available to them. I’m excited to continue our growth together.
I leave you with words from one of our APTP@School youth:
“The most important thing I learned through APTP@School is to be yourself because you’re truly irreplaceable. I learned that our past makes us who we are and we shouldn’t change for the world. I learned that everyone has their own unique spark, we all just need to learn how to embrace it.”
“The most important thing I learned through APTP@School is to be yourself because you're truly irreplaceable. I learned that our past makes us who we are and we shouldn't change for the world. I learned that everyone has their own unique spark, we all just need to learn how to embrace it.”