Free Poetry For

Location:  Baltimore, MD
United States
Project Description: 

It Takes a Village is an auxiliary workshop developed by Towson University Alumni, and Poetry in Community founders, Douglas Mowbray and Christophe Casamassima—who is also a Towson University Staff and Faculty Member—for the Village Learning Place’s LINK After School Program. Poetry in Community and the Village Learning Place share the common goal of supporting, educating, and mentoring the youth enrolled in LINK.

LINK (Let’s Invest in Neighborhood Kids) is an initiative offering programs and services to strengthen the entire community. LINK After School provides elementary school students with free, challenging, dynamic programming and nutritious snacks every weekday throughout the school year.

The academic focus of the LINK programs is on reading and mathematics, with quality instruction and research-based curricula. Middle school students receive mini-lessons aligned with the State Curriculum, high school choice and application support, and college and career preparation. The enrichment component of LINK After School includes an art program, computer technology lessons, and physical activities. Field trips to cultural sites, performances, and college campuses broaden students’ perspectives.

It Takes a Village serves nineteen (19) 7th and 8th grade Baltimore City students who have been identified by their respective schools and the Village Learning Place as being in need of additional after-school mentoring in order to improve their reading skills. Each student has been evaluated and determined to be reading at least 2–3 grade levels below their current academic grade level. Poetry in Community developed It Takes a Village using the Arts Integration approach to improving learning.

The objectives of the It Takes a Village workshop are:
• To provide a creative and critical learning environment that will foster a unique and expansive foundation in writing and conceptualization skills;
• To foster character development and individual learning styles while introducing students to collaborative problem-solving skills;
• To develop a holistic approach to writing from ideation and conceptualization (aesthetics) through editing and publishing (technology/career);
• To introduce students to a variety of literature and art that covers fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography, etc.;
• To develop long-term career skills/goals by collecting personal materials into a dynamic, professional portfolio that exhibits ownership of, responsibility and accountability for their own work;
• To increase fluency, comprehension, and orthographic development in order to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the arts;
• To extend the private act of writing/art-making to the public sphere of social participation and education; and
• To encourage participation in the greater literary and arts communities.

Students will be guided over 20 weeks in 10 sessions by local poet–instructors to meet the objectives outlined above. The culmination of the course will be an anthology of work, published by Poetry in Community, all chosen and edited by the 7th and 8th grade students that are participating in the LINK program. On May 20, 2013, Poetry in Community and the Village Learning Place will celebrate and acknowledge the work and dedication of the students with a book launch party where members of the students’ family and the community will be invited.

Populations Engaged: 
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