Upstream Arts Teaching Artists in action

​Teaching Artists Evie Digirolamo and Abigail Magalee leading an Upstream Arts class, Spring 2016 (photo: Theo Goodell)


June is always an exciting month at Upstream Arts – not only because it’s finally warm outside, but also because we receive so many reports and evaluations full of great stories from our spring programs at schools across the Twin Cities and beyond, as they wrap up!

Take this anecdote from Upstream Arts Teaching Artist Evie Digirolamo, following her work in a Special Education classroom at Field Community School: “Today the school staff were astonished at the level of engagement shown by Kyle* and Will*, who participated in our theater scenario about staying flexible when you don’t get your way. The staff said they saw tactics they’ve never witnessed Kyle or Will using before. For example, in the scenario, we pretended that Kyle had eaten an ice cream sandwich that belonged to me. To right the wrong, Kyle decided he could bring me a new ice cream sandwich from his personal supply. During Will’s turn, he told a joke to diffuse conflict. The staff had never heard him tell a joke before.”

A few weeks later, we received feedback via email from one of the Special Education Assistants who had participated in that class alongside her students. She recalled the same scenario that Evie had described:

“I’m a true believer of Upstream Arts. Let me start with Kyle. The last few months, I spend my whole day with Kyle. The growth of his social skills has skyrocketed, partially due to Upstream. The classes provided him the space to take risks and be comfortable with his peers. The breakthrough moment was the scenario with the ice cream. To witness him going to the next level of the thinking, processing how to make the situation better for a friend, was unforgettable. Also, it was great to see Will move out of his comfort zone when he performed. He has been more outgoing, speaking up, and more silly with us. It’s good to see him smile. There is something that the kids impress me with every week in Upstream Arts. I hope next year you will come back. I’m thankful to be part of the great work you do.”

This story is one of hundreds we experience year after year. Our program participants and partners constantly remind us why it’s so important to keep moving upstream.

Click here to learn more about Upstream Arts’ school programs and how to bring one of our arts residencies to your classroom.

*Names of students have been changed to honor their privacy.