Delia Denson

From August 7th to the 9th, the Urban Arts office was taken over and officially “boopified.” Kicking off with 30 teachers, teaching artists, and special education professionals traveling from around New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington DC, and as far as North Carolina, the EASE Summer Institute provided three full days of training in its curriculum and arts integration strategies. We were also pleasantly surprised and honoured to welcome back a participant from last year’s institute who couldn’t get enough EASE!

One of the tenets of the EASE Curriculum states “Rules + Play = Game”. The same principle applied for the attendees of this year’s Summer Institute. If you had wandered into the office on those days, you may have heard choruses of “boooop!” as fingers met in the middle of a masking tape mural or watched while educators and professionals dramatically retold the story of The Three Little Pigs with stockings stuffed with newspaper. Interwoven with hands-on learning activities and a lot of laughs, participants also left with meaningful material from the curriculum as well as the shared knowledge and experience of the staff, teaching artists, and their fellow participants.

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What makes the EASE Summer Institute truly unique to other PD trainings throughout the year is the collaboration and community that is built over the three days. Sita Frederick, Program Manager, reflected:

“I was impressed by the level of engagement which speaks to the commitment and passion these teachers have for using the arts to reach students with special needs…it was exciting to be in that community, and to continue to build that community.”

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This enthusiasm was truly shared by all. One attendee thoughtfully remarked,

“This workshop is a safe, exciting, vital way to explore arts integration, to explore working with special education students as well as general education, to really use backward thinking to move step by step.”

Thanks to a passionate team of teaching artists, Nancy Volante, Erica Rooney, Nysheva-Starr, and Alejandra Duque, each day flowed with a rhythm and momentum that kept participants engaged and turning up each morning enthusiastic for more. Many had not been students themselves for some time and the support and learning that took place was palpable. The event was punctuated by thoughtful reflection and dialogue led by EASE Curriculum Designer Jennifer Raine, Program Manager Sita Frederick, and Program Director Kathy London.

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Jennifer Raine commented in looking back on the three days:

“I was so inspired that our participants took time out from their summer to come learn about EASE. It’s such an honor to collaborate with people who care so much about the work they do; and it’s really exciting to see the impact EASE can have in all different kinds of settings.”

The impact was resounding leaving only words of advice from one teacher, “You need to attend!!! That’s it!!!” Thanks as well to many generous donations from our sponsors! Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.29.00 AM

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