My visit to
After School Matters
Savanna Miska, Undergraduate Art Education Major
On the evening of October 11, Meagan Kirkwood, another Art Education Major and I had the opportunity to attend the After School Matters program in Chicago with its outstandingly passionate and knowledgeable leaders Randiss Hopkins and Chris Nergaard as well as Northern Illinois University’s Dean Paul Kassel and Dr. Kryssi Staikidis.
After School Matters is a program that encourages students to pursue the joy of creating various types of art, such as language arts, music, and visual arts, after the school day is over. The program has multiple locations in Chicago and we were able to experience five of the wonderful classes at four of the locations.
We began our journey at Phoenix Military Academy where we discussed the academic goals of the students, such as building a professional portfolio, in Phoenix Advanced Art while students worked on projects in Photoshop where they learned about the significance of blurring areas of photographs and applied it to their own images as pieces to add to their portfolio as they worked toward developing the skills needed to attain AP requirements.
Then we traveled downstairs and listened to the MACC Hornets Performing Arts, a drum and bugle corps, perform their diligently practiced routine that displayed the students’ high level skills.
After feeling inspired by the students at the school campus, we traveled to the private studio Glassworks in the heart of the city where students were given the opportunity to learn how the glass-making process works by the studio’s passionate and engaging artists.
I have never seen glassmaking done in person and the experience took my breath away. Being surrounded in a studio space that truly warms your soul is invigorating.
Once we watched a demonstration about how to create a bird out of glass, we trekked to Leif Ericson School where we were all greeted by the student leader of Colored Girls are Cover Girls.
The student’s shared impassioned poems filled with energy and were constantly motivated by their peer’s ongoing support. Their poems were unashamedly passionate and told stories about issues related to inner-city teenage girls as a means to educate their peers and community members.
At our last stop of the evening, the Garfield Park Golden Dome, students with Berklee City Music played a song for us that they were learning. They use cutting edge curriculum formulated through Berklee PULSE which helps teens reach their goals to attended music programs in higher education. It was at this moment in the night where I became flooded by my emotions due to the hardworking students and struggled to introduce myself because I was so taken over by their inspiring efforts to achieve anything and everything imaginable.
Without an ounce of doubt in my mind, After School Matters is a program dedicated to assisting students achieve mastery levels and it was evident in my experience attending five of the classes offered by the program that it is effective.
This program has been rapidly growing in Chicago, and Northern Illinois University plans to create opportunities where future artists, musicians, art educators, and music educators can work with After School Matters to establish life long lasting relationships and professional career development.
Teaming with a program as passionate as After School Matters communicates to students at Northern Illinois University that valuing education and community is essential to growth.