Posted Monday October 09 2017 at 8:38 pm
Greetings! I'm Amanda and I am here for the year to study for my Ed.M from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, the Arts In Education program. For the past 11 years I worked as a teaching artist, arts administrator, and performance maker/deviser/curator in Chicago.
What are your favorite pastimes?
"Taking my husband on self-guided walking tours of new places, dance parties with my friends, and eating french fries!"
If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
"I do not have a favorite cartoon character but I would choose to have a cartoon version of myself created by Maira Kalman."
You are trapped on an island. What three items do you want to have with you?
"My cat Abbies, my collection of art postcards, and an endless supply of drinkable water."
Do you have any uncommon talents or quirks?
"I am a performance artist - which is perceived as a quirk by many!"
What brings you to VSA?
"In Chicago, my administrative practice was always paired with my teaching practice. I wanted to find the right opportunity to keep connected to schools, teachers, and students while studying. VSA MA's inclusive, arts integration programming looked like the perfect opportunity to meet and work with amazing arts educators/administrators and learn from the programming they are implementing in Massachusetts schools. I am grateful to have been brought into this organization to compliment my time studying at Harvard."
What are you doing during your internship?
"I'm spending the year as a Teaching Artist Fellow! I'll be supporting COOL Schools programming by observing classroom sessions, assisting with coordination and documentation, and facilitating communication between VSA MA administrators and teaching artists, as well as teaching artists and teachers."
Posted Monday July 17 2017 at 2:12 pm
After spending a year working as an intern with Aysha, Nicole, Charlie, Jon, and COOL School's many wonderful Teaching Artists, it was a no-brainer for us to offer Mia Branco the position of COOL Program Manager, starting September 1, 2017.
Before moving to Boston to pursue her Masters in Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and interning with VSA, Mia was the Access Program Coordinator for a Children's Theatre in DC called Imagination Stage. While in this position she developed and implemented arts curricula for students of all abilities, developed policies for family engagement, and worked with the professional theatre to continue to grow the accessibility of their productions. Mia specialized in programming for students with autism and emotional trauma. In addition to developing programming in house, she was in charge of the programming for multiple school partnerships and other local organizations. Through a project funded by VSA and The Kennedy Center Mia also had the opportunity to develop and co-lead trainings about inclusion best practices within arts programming for venues including Roundabout Theatre (NYC) and Wheelock Family Theatre (Boston).
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Posted Wednesday July 12 2017 at 3:08 pm
VSA Mass. COOL Schools Director Nicole Agois Hurel recently wrote a piece for Disability Issues which discusses our Creative Outlook On Learning program. The full article is reproduced below and you can find the full issue here. Disability Issues is a publication of Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and archived issues going back to 2007 are available here.
Ever think about what role the arts can play in supporting learning and inclusion? Recently, a third grader named Shantel told us all about how she experienced this while learning how to make a clock. A teaching artist had worked alongside her teacher to help her and her classmates with and without disabilities engage with their math curriculum through the visual arts. As she worked on measuring, estimating and calculating to build this clock with her own hands, she experienced a new sense of accomplishment, creativity and a new appreciation for how math is a part of her everyday life.
Shantel is just one of approximately 1,600 children and youth who participate in the VSA Massachusetts' COOL Schools program each year. Essentially, COOL Schools transforms classrooms into creative spaces with increased opportunities for imagination, physical engagement, and play within in the learning process. COOL has brought schools a Creative Outlook On Learning for over 35 years. By supporting partnerships where teaching artists and classroom teachers teach together using the arts, COOL creates opportunities for children with a wide range of abilities to learn and thrive in school.
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