Summer Programs for Youth at Mayo Street Arts include K-1 Morning Tutoring (EECS), the RAD program, and the free lunch program.
2018 summer programs were made possible by the Brick and Beam Society of the United Way of Greater Portland, the Opportunity Alliance, East End Community School, LearningWorks, and Mayo Street Arts.
The goal is to provide a vibrant, safe and inspiring center of summer learning that helps children ages 5-11 reach grade reading level. The program engaged youth in the arts, built community in the East Bayside and surrounding neighborhoods, and was accessible to low income families in the community.
Most children live within walking distance and reside at nearby public housing. Many children and their families are English language learners and speak multiple languages. Many parents are in the process of assimilating, finding work, and navigating a new life.
K-1 Morning Tutoring provided tutoring, teaching, reading, games, and lunch, taught by East End Community School (EECS) Staff. The morning tutoring program was a pilot program addressing a gap in summer learning for rising kindergarten and first grade students who will benefit from summer learning. 2018 was the second year of the program. The program served 17 students ages 5-7 each day with an average attendance number of 13. In addition to the two East End Community School staff, there were three AmeriCorps volunteers and a volunteer from EECS.
The students had multiple opportunities for arts and literacy enrichment throughout the program. The students participated in a bookmaking workshop with children’s book artist R. Gregory Christie at the Portland Public Library (PPL). Each student created a small book that was theirs to keep. All of the students participated in the Portland Public Library’s summer reading challenge. On a second trip to the PPL the students saw the fantastic show Animalia by Jim Henson award-winning puppeteer Hobey Ford. Additionally, students participated in a kite making workshop with Joel Eckhaus and a multi day puppet making workshop with Nance Parker of the Shoestring Theatre. One fun morning was spent exploring the Children’s Museum, but nothing topped the field trip to Bug Light. The students travelled by water taxi to Bug Light Park to fly the kites that they made and for some it was their first time out on the water. Each week students visited the Bookmobile and took hip hop dance classes with Portland Youth Dance.
RAD! (Reading, Art, Dance!) provided a literacy-rich environment with a focus on reading and the arts. Students received reading and writing instruction, lunch, and daily arts enrichment activities like music, dance, and puppet theater. This was the fourth summer of the program. RAD served up to 29 students ages 7 to 11 each day with an average attendance of 25 students. RAD was taught by one lead teacher and two assistant teachers, with additional support from two AmeriCorps volunteers.
The program is unique in that it provides curriculum for students of varied ages, languages, and reading abilities. Increase in reading enjoyment is a primary goal, whether students read on their own, with help from an adult, or simply listen to stories with a group. Students participated in the Portland Public Library’s Summer Reading program, and received visits from the Bookmobile each week.
Students had many opportunities for enrichment with a multitude of visiting artists and field trips. The students went to Gilsland Farm to explore the natural environment and find inspiration for their writing. They also spent an afternoon exploring and learning at the Children’s Museum. Each week students visited the Bookmobile and took hip hop dance classes with Portland Youth Dance. Other trips that stood out this summer were the visit to PPL for the puppet show Animalia by Hobie Ford and a water taxi trip to Bug Light to fly the kites they made with Joel Eckhaus. The students each created a hand sewn sock animal with Maggie Muth of Stitch Hive, worked with puppet maker Nance Parker, and created a visual and audio work of art about the neighborhood with Kelly Rioux and Caroline Losneck. It was a jam packed summer!
The free lunch program provides important healthy nutrition for children who may be food insecure or not otherwise have access to healthy meals. Lunch was provided by Opportunity Alliance.
PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY & ENROLLMENT
The program was free by invitation, with priority to new Mainers and students who may not otherwise have access to a summer learning program. Students were invited by teachers and staff at Mayo Street Arts and East End School, with recommendations from Community Policing, Learning Works, Portland Housing, and other community stakeholders.
Enrollment began in April and due to the popularity of the program some students were waitlisted. Over the course of the summer, we were able to accommodate most of the students on the waitlist due to shifting attendance. This summer turned out higher average attendance rates and less attrition of students over the course of the program compared with previous years.
AmeriCorps volunteers placed by LearningWorks assisted with tutoring, reading, arts activities, lunch, and field trips in the morning and afternoon programs. Some of the volunteers were already familiar with students and teachers through their school year placements at East End Community School.
INTER-AGENCY ARTS PROGRAMMING
Mayo Street Arts coordinated a summer consortium of arts programming partners LearningWorks, Portland Rec, Reiche Summer School, the YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater. Based on the idea that music, theater, and art enhance students’ understanding of literature – and the world. 800 students of need were able to attend an inspiring performance by Jim Henson award-winning puppeteer Hobey Ford at the Portland Public Library.
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT
A culminating event of summer was the annual neighborhood block party, National Night Out. A nation wide initiative bringing neighbors, businesses, and police together for a night of fun, food, music, and solidarity. Our celebration began at MSA with a parade lineup. Both the EECS and RAD programs made puppets for the parade with Nance Parker of Shoestring Theatre. The students carried these puppets in a neighborhood parade accompanied by neighbors, a band and larger than life puppets from Shoestring Theatre! Once the group arrived a Fox Field there were speakers, including one of our students talking about what he liked best about the neighborhood. The students then showcased their hip hop dance skills for parents and community members at a fun, multicultural event representing the unique talents of East Bayside and Portland.
With more consistent attendance rates than ever, our 2018 programs brought a new level of creative activity and community togetherness to the neighborhood. Welcoming back East End Community School to the program was a major help as teachers are already so connected with many of the families and students served.
The Mayo Street Arts summer program model is a community based, grassroots endeavor reaching many students and families who need help the most, and builds a welcoming community resource of families, artists, and teachers within walking distance. We are excited about summer programming and the continued positive impacts we can make with strong partnerships and caring efforts by the community.
STRENGTHS, AND OBSERVATIONS
One clear strength of this summer’s program was the rise in consistent attendance compared with past summers. More students were served overall, as well as on a daily basis. Students were engaged and excited to attend the program.
Another strength of this summer was the array of visiting artists that came in to work with the students. Each student came away with multiple pieces of art in different mediums, including a collage, a paper mache animal, a decorated kite, hand bound books and sock monkeys. These enriching activities brought so much diverse artistic talent into MSA to work with the students.
Finally, the trips we took were definitely a highlight. Students traveled to Gilsland Farm, the Children’s Museum, the library, and to Bug Light by water taxi. For most of our students these were opportunities they would not have otherwise had this summer.
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