What have you learned about the resources (both monetary and non-monetary) needed to be successful in implementing your project?
-In this first year we learned that in creating new programming we had large aspirations based on the work we have already done at Peninsula. What we didn’t anticipate is the time needed for families to get to know us and develop trust (weird, I know). We had allocated funds for off- site field trips that did not receive the involvement we had anticipated. These field trips included The Portland Art Museum, Wieden and Kennedy and other creative industry organizations Parent permission was needed to attend, and we ended up only having 2-3 parents respond. We realized that it would take more time for us build relationships with parents. We hope to incorporate field trips into next year’s activities, but for this year we instead used the money for more after-school activities such as photography lab time where the students were able to delve deeper into their photography skills. On average there were 8 students per week attend. Our after-school workshops allowed us to provide additional activities in a setting trusted by parents.
In general, we’ve found that year 1 required the most resources in terms of our 4 core project staff (Julie Keefe, Lori Shippy, Kevin Ball, Meg Shepard). We anticipated bringing in a variety of highly skilled artists and creative professional to build on the work of our core staff. Instead, we found that creating consistency among the Peninsula community was key. More projects were executed by core teaching staff than originally planned. We plan to incorporate additional teaching artists more in year 2 and beyond, now that we’ve laid the groundwork. Providing youth with a variety of artistic voices from a range of diverse artists is extremely important to us. However, with our goal of creating a greater shift in the school community, we’ll weave these artists in at slower rate than expected.
We have known that it “takes a village” and we have been fortunate with the village members that have shown up and supported our youth. The most difficult part has been getting all the members on the same page and in the same place at the same time. I know that the S2S cohort expressed concern of not receiving year 2 funding due to their inability to make it to certain meetings or rendezvous. Many of us are involved in a number of other “villages” that make it difficult to get all the meetings. This project is a high priority for Caldera and Peninsula K-8. We have 100% buy-in from both sides, and I hope that in year 2 we can streamline our efforts so that each member of the learning cohort is participating in the most effective way possible. In Caldera’s experience working with school partners, we’ve created the strongest, most effective partners when each of our unique roles is clearly understood.
What were the most impactful ways that you used your OCF grant funding in year 1?
-There were so many impactful activities we did! From “Talking with Strangers,” where the youth learned interviewing skills and got to meet some different folks in their community to create photo essays to the weekly mentoring class where the youth helped create a safe community to look at the world through an artistic lens. The strong community created inside the two Caldera mentoring classes helped us develop and execute successful school-wide events that incorporated the same ideas and were built on the same principles.
The participation of Lori Shippy, with her art skills and her prolonged relationship with the students, enabled youth to delve even deeper into their creativity. Including Meg Sheppard as a mentor dedicated to third- through fifth-graders, but working in the whole school for certain projects, helped to bring a cultural lens that the youth don’t often get from staff, as she is a Woman of Color. The inclusion of Meg and Lori, in addition to our Lead Teaching Artist, Julie Keefe, and full-time Middle School Mentor, Kevin Ball, meant that we had four staff on-site at Peninsula throughout each week, leveraging the impact of our work.
The amount of time/resources that were spent on the “Best Part of Me, ” made the greatest impact, in my opinion. The project consisted of a photo/writing project where youth chose a part of themselves that they loved, wrote an essay describing why that’s the best part of them, and used the photography skills they’ve been developing to create images that captured their best part. The project involved every Peninsula K-8 Student (almost 390 in total!) creating a “Best Part of Me Project.”. Not only did all the youth and staff get to learn photography skills and create art, final projects covered the halls of the school creating a community forum for self-expression that included everyone.
How might you apply what you’ve learned in using your funding resources in year 2?
-We learned that the youth respond to their communities, for good or bad. For the next year we would like to focus on creating more opportunities for the youth to see their communities in positive light and to know who is in those communities. With gentrification happening in the Peninsula neighborhood, there are more possibilities of misunderstandings, anger, and resentment. Focusing on more community-based art will give us the opportunity to create buy-in from the community at-large for the work we do. We envision our youth having powerful voices in this conversation. In addition, we’ll expose students to different parts of Portland so they can see different artistic possibilities that are available to them, i.e. The Portland Art Museum, Wieden and Kennedy and other creative industry organizations.
Like in year one, we’ll likely provide after-school workshops, but we will still try to develop field trip opportunities when the timing feels right. We anticipate more teacher participation at some of our out-of-school trainings (this is a trend we’ve seen with other partner schools. Participation in year 1 of out of school trainings is modest, but once a few teachers are engaged, interest spreads quickly).
As mentioned before, we had lofty goals of what we could complete in year 1. Instead of focusing on checking everything of our list, we put effort into slowly building our community. This meant that some projects (i.e. online student portfolios field trips, etc.) were not completed. While we continue to have the overall project goal of offering these activities, we’ll use our learning from year 1 to focusing our resources on building our community, executing projects on a timeline that is meaningful to our youth and the Peninsula community. This may mean that we bring in additional artists in-residence, but it may also mean that it’s more beneficial for Julie to execute most projects with the assistance of our other core staff. We’ll continue to be sensitive to balance of building trust and offering new perspectives.
If your anticipated budget is changing for year 2 – how do you think that change might result in different work for your team?
-This questions is addressed in most of our above answers, but to summarize, budget changes include:
Including our Education Director’s (Jon Larsen) time in the budget. As mentioned, this project is a major focus of Caldera and it is important to us that we’re dedicating the appropriate amount of time to this project. As the former Caldera middle school mentor (from 2011-2014), Jon is familiar with the Peninsula community. He has been able to help guide the all the core project staff. He has been able to offer Julie important feedback about how to best integrate her projects into the school and has helped all core staff build relationships throughout the school.
We will offer a variety of after-school/out-of-school activities (i.e. after-school workshops, field trips, summer day camps) with the goal of building more trust enthusiasm in year 2.
We have a lowered our budget line for technical assistance. All of our core staff have been highly qualified and we have had little need for additional support. In year 2, we’ll continue to assess staff needs and bring in technical assistance where needed.
In year 1 we did not include Creative Industry professionals in our programming. It’s our goal to include these outside professionals in a project in year 2.
We expect all of our budget lines related to teacher training to go up in year 2. We think they’ll be more participation from teachers since they will understand what we do/what we offer a bit more. Plus, we’re hoping to develop a fall 2015 symposium in conjunction with other S2S cohorts.
Our budget revenue for Fundraisers ($1,500 for a studio art sale), was something that was spearheaded by the former Peninsula principal. With an administration change in fall 2014, this sale no longer occurs at Peninsula. While we may try to execute a student sale, we’ll need some time to decide if that’s of interest to the school/students. If it does occur, it will be Caldera-led and it will most likely tie into another school-wide activity. Proceeds will benefit this project.