“Poetry can be anything we want it to be. It’s your story – it’s how you feel – and that’s powerful.” That’s the message that poet, artist, and hip-hop musician See More Perspective brought to students at Chaska Middle School West this week, thanks to a generous grant from the District 112 Foundation. Perspective works with COMPAS, a non-profit arts organization that has worked in Minnesota for almost 50 years, teaching students through art. The artist is spending time with West 8th graders who are beginning their poetry unit, and spent time with West teachers Melissa Balcerak and Nancy Tichey-Valois to integrate his presentation with their goals for the unit.
During their time together, students learned about the elements of spoken word poetry, worked together as a team to create a poem, and then developed their own spoken word poetry before the class concluded. It was an opportunity to explore their own identity and values, reflect on those with their peers, and work on developing their own creative voice in the process.
CMSW Information Innovation Learning Specialist Carol Scheffler, who submitted the grant to the foundation, said, “Working directly with an artist like See More Perspective helps our learners unlock their creativity and gain confidence in expressing themselves. This experience might also be the push they need to stand up and speak in front of classmates. Or the catalyst for seeing themselves as a spoken word poet. But most of all, this residency has shown our 8th graders the incredible messages they are capable of writing.”