There are tons of great charter schools in New York and Connecticut going above and beyond for their students. This means staving off the summer slide, either with an extended year or a robust program to keep their students engaged in these summer months. The Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication (ISAAC) has partnered with Writer's Block Ink to give students the opportunity to ignite social change through the arts this summer.
For the 40 students participating in Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication’s (ISAAC) eight week summer program in collaboration with Writer’s Block Ink, there is the unique opportunity to discuss the extremely tough issues and events the nation is grappling with this summer – all through the lens of different art forms.
Summer programs help stave off the so-called “summer slide” -- the tendency for kids to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. And this program is doing that, while also giving kids a safe place to have discussions on topics like domestic abuse, race relations, and police brutality.
Principal and Executive Director of ISAAC, David Howes said, “Writer’s Block’s motto is this: Igniting social change on the page and on the stage. It is the perfect fit with ISAAC’s own mission: Inspiring students through arts and communication to be difference makers.”
There’s something really special about ISAAC’s collaboration with Writer’s Block, too. The director Adriane Jefferson is an ISAAC alum. ISAAC has been offering summer programs for its students for more than 12 years and Howes said this partnership makes total sense because both the school and Writer’s Block aim to make young people “courageous citizens” and “difference makers”.
The students who take part are a mix of ISAAC students and students from the community who attend district schools – showing that charters also truly want to share their work and their creativity with all kids as a way to truly uplift communities, Howes tells us. Additionally, while this program is free for ISAAC kids, scholarships are available for any family outside of ISAAC. They also say no child is turned away for inability to pay.
Writer’s Block Marketing Assistant and music teacher Chaz Cleckley, also a charter school alum, explained more about the program: “ We teach social change through the arts. There are different tracks and students are placed in the tracks based on their interests and strengths.”
Cleckley described the tracks:
Track 1 - Acting, singing, and dancing
Track 2 - Digital photography, set design, marketing, lighting and music supervising
Track 3 - Creative writing, performance poetry & spoken word, script development
Throughout the summer the kids hone their skills and learn more about their craft – and the importance of integrating it into current and social events. The students also create and perform their own original production on a particular social justice topic. This summer their production will focus on the complex and important issue of domestic violence. Their teachers provide an outline and the a shell of an idea and the kids take the lead on developing it into a full-fledged production.
Cleckley said, “We keep it timely. So for instance, right now, race relations, the treatment of people of color, and police brutality are topics our students want to discuss. Just this morning a student came in and he was really upset. He wanted to have a discussion on the recent events involving black men being killed by police, so we addressed those issues today. It’s important. The kids bring things up and teachers are just there to help to guide the conversation.”
Howes added, “We think summer learning is essential. We would like more ISAAC kids to attend and hope this program grows in the future. We’re fortunate to have such an engaging summer program for our students to express themselves while at the same time, learn and keep their reading and writing skills strong.”
The students’ end-of-summer production is scheduled for August 11-14
For more on the summer program, click here.