by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate
TAP began programming in collaboration with HACA (Housing Authority of the City of Austin) in February of 2010, and we’re thrilled to be beginning our fourth semester with the communities at Booker T. Washington, Meadowbrook, Shadowbend, and our second semester at Goodrich Apartments. Some of our past projects at HACA sites have included: Giant puppets and a community garden at Booker T., filmmaking at Meadowbrook and Shadowbend, the creation of a “class pet” at Shadowbend and Goodrich, and drumming and dancing at Meadowbrook. Other highlights include field trips to local farms, to an annual parade in honor of Cesar Chavez, and to the Save Our Schools rally this past spring.
I can’t wait to see what our fantastic team of HACA Teaching Artists do with the youth this fall, and I’m thrilled, as the new HACA Site Director at TAP (taking over for the fabulous Dustin Wills), to be in a position to support this important work, as I find that the relationship we form with youth and communities at these HACA sites is really special.
Here’s a little something I wrote about our HACA class community last year at Booker T., where I taught during the 2010-2011 school year:
I love our class and our class project at Booker T. Something about working at a HACA site allows me to develop a much closer and more genuine relationship with the students than in any other after-school setting I’ve worked in. Since the students aren’t required to go, the students who choose to come every week are there because they are invested in and committed to what we are doing. Working in this way forces us, as teachers, to respect student voice and honor their voices – they keep coming back because this project is theirs. I also love having three hours of “face time” with the students, in our small learning community. In other after-school settings, though I technically see the students for three hours once a week, for much of that time they’re in larger groups (the cafeteria at snack time, playing outside with everyone at recess), so I don’t really get to talk to them or get to know them nearly as well as I’ve already gotten to know my students at BTW after just few months. I think I had forgotten what an impact we could have on youth before I started with HACA, how much working on a project together and getting the attention of support of caring adults and a supportive learning community could mean to the students. One student (Zhaire) kept saying all throughout class this past Friday, “I love this!”