A word from our Director of Programs, Brent Adams
This past Thursday as we prepared to begin our weekly development meeting (Weekly Wokely), I sat back for a moment in awe. I was caught and struck by the number of program staff we now have, the diversity of strength and insight reflected among us, and the deep loving commitment to our students and work held together and up by each of us. Ten community artists, activists and educators sat before me playfully making corny puns about the concept of a ‘new’ year–we have an organizational cultural practice of regular corny punning. Momentarily we would step rigorously into a dialogue and practice on how to establish regular practices of meaningful dialogue in our classrooms, but before we did, I chose to sit back and take in the mighty phenomenon manifested in front of me. YOR has grown meaningfully this past semester in terms of both breadth and depth. The program staff is as large as it has ever been, a necessary expansion to meet the growing demands of and for our work.
This regular love-oriented critical reflection and growth has become a natural and joyful part of our organizational culture Weekly Wokely is a meeting when the program staff comes together to dive deeper into our pedagogy and praxis, and to strengthen our understanding and skills that enables us to better serve our students in their self-liberation (often from oppressive forces that will otherwise dictate their life outcomes)
The fall semester of 2019 at Youth on Record (YOR) is marked by numerous victories in our efforts to provide trauma informed, liberatory and engaged, nonviolent arts and music education to students in Denver. Our team of ten Teaching Artists are increasingly engaging students in the positive transformation of the self and our community. Most notably, we have expanded into two new program contracts that include our first programmatic partnership with Aurora Public Schools (APS) and our first middle school contract. Our expansion into each realm has been to meet explicit requests by community partners to address issues of systemic racial oppression and inequity within the school environment. Which is to say, YOR’s reputation has grown as not only a quality arts and music education organization but as an effective equity and justice organization. That a better world is possible is something I’ve always hoped. The continuous expansion and deepening of our work marked by victories like we’ve had this past semester teaches me that a better world is possible, that that is something I can not only hope, but know.