After our recent series of Professional Development Workshops in West Virginia the week of October 16th-20th, we asked artist Bomani Armah to share his experience:
“The ultimate goal for me as an artist and educator is to make sure my art, ideas and techniques live past me. It has matured from the time of a young artist of making sure everyone knows my name, to wanting to let other artists and educators skip the bumps in the road we inevitably come across trying to be effective communicators in our mediums and in our classrooms. The best, and most fun way for me to do that now is by doing professional development classes. Due to my work with Story Tapestries, I’ve
been able to spread these techniques and hard earned shortcuts with over 300 educators for a week while working with teachers and education majors in the Morgantown, West Virginia area. I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship.
Being in front of a group of education majors is thrilling. I remember the idealism and the enthusiasm. I remember recovering for all night study sessions and parties and trying to act educated and civil the next day. At least that was me. These students in Ms. Martucci’s and Ms. Satterfield’s class didn’t seem to have problems at all as we did two three hour crash courses in the art of teaching creative writing through Hip-Hop. I most enjoy the speed-through version of hip-hop history I do with these students who are younger than my favorite albums. We often get mad at the next generation for not knowing or understanding the history of the cultures they are a part of, without ever taking the time to tell them this history. Of all the things I imparted to the WV students here, I hope I passed on my love of using popular music and culture as a teaching tool. There will be a time when teaching using hip-hop won’t have the same cultural cache as it does now, but the technique of teaching through the lens of popular culture will always be relevant. Hopefully some Mountaineers will be a part of the next wave of art integration in the classroom.
On top of sharing great energy with about 100 education majors in Morgantown, I got to make rhymes and b-boy/b- girl stances with teachers in Preston County and Monongalia County. I also got to debut my PreK-through-1st-grade workshop in Harrison County. The teachers were all incredibly receptive and enthusiastic, and I got several offers to come back and do residencies and assemblies. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to West Virginia.”
We’d like to thank The Art Museum at West Virginia University for joining the project this year by providing coaching and field trips to participating classrooms; Monongalia, Preston, and Harrison Counties for welcoming our Bomani in to their schools to work with their teachers; and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at WVU and Open Circle Theatre for partnering to make this program a reality. This program is provided under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.