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Bartol Blog

Learn what is happening in the field of arts education and teaching artistry. Past blog posts with links to resources can be found by searching or by clicking on a category below. Check in often as we update our blog and link to local and national resources.

Get to Know the Grantee: Theatre Exile

“…whatever is going on in your life, try to bring your best self to class.”

 

 

Theatre Exile is committed to theatre, especially in its South Philly neighborhood. Paper Wings is Theatre Exile’s in-school residency outreach program.  Experienced, professional teaching artists go into the classroom once a week and work with students to help them find their voices, build confidence, work collaboratively, and engage with the world in an empowered way.  Deb Block, Executive Director, and Steve Gravelle, Teaching Artist, weighed in with their answers to our questions of the day.

 

Deborah Block

 

What revs you up to go to work in the morning?

I truly believe that what we do makes our world a better place.  But in the most immediate way, it’s the wonderful people that I work with.  Me being my best, helps others do the wonderful work that they’re doing. 

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

The lists of things to do.  Being afraid of forgetting something important. 

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

It’s usually after the fact.  When I get a personal note that is not just thanks for being there or doing that, but when they tell me something about themselves that has significantly changed because of the experience. Sometimes these come from teachers who write about how a student has grown in direct response to our program.  I have had a handful of really monumental notes like that. Just one, would have made all of my work worthwhile. 

 

What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?

Trust, listen, and guide when necessary.  Hopefully in that order.

 

What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours?

Be adaptable.  Listen to the kids.  Feel what they need. Always engage. And if that last one is difficult, take some time to remember why you are doing it.  Take a nap, because you’re probably over worked. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of them. It’s hard work. But it is so meaningful. 

 

What is your favorite field trip? (Real or imagined.)

I’d go all Christmas Carol on the students and visit their future selves with creativity in their lives and them living in their strengths, and their future selves without it. 

 

 

Steve Gravelle 

 

What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?

“When I first started this work, I was afraid to talk in front of people.  Drama was scary at first, but now I’m more confident in my public speaking.  Thanks Mr Steve!” – Denise, Grade 8

 

What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?

When you’re a TA, you typically only get one brief interaction per week… whatever is going on in your life, try to bring your best self to class.  It will make the students feel more successful if you bring positive energy with you!  

 

What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours?

Three things: 1) Show up on time.  2) Work hard and accomplish the tasks given to you.  3) Be nice to people. It never ceases to amaze me how few working artists can manage all three things.  If you can stay steady on these three fundamentals, you’ll never want for work.  

 

What is your favorite field trip? (Real or imagined.)

Taking a large group of summer campers to the Please Touch Museum.  They went just crazy in a museum specifically designed for them to play with everything.  It’s my favorite museum by a wide margin.  

 

 Best.  Snack. Ever.

Cheez-its, straight out of the box.  Trying not to eat an entire box at a time is the biggest struggle.

 

 

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

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