The Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership (PAEP) is pleased to report the success that The After School STEAM Program is experiencing in its second year. The after school program is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Grant. Pennsylvania’s primary goal for its 21st CCLC programs are to assist youth to meet state standards for core academic subjects by providing students with academic enrichment opportunities.
Currently PAEP’s After School STEAM Program is engaging 5th to 8th grade students at five schools in the southeastern region: A.M.Y at James Martin School, Bache-Martin School, Shawmont School, Stephen Decatur School, and Woodrow Wilson Middle School.
The mission of the After School STEAM Program is to provide quality educational programming for all students through engaging visual and performing arts experiences. Designed to augment STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with the inclusion of the arts (STEAM), this program employs visual and performing arts as a means to strengthen students’ mathematics and science competencies, promote healthy lifestyles through physical fitness and better nutrition, and enhance the development of students’ pro social behaviors and attitudes towards school.
PAEP recently sat down with Naza Badal, one of our dance-teaching artists, to discuss her work in the After School STEAM Program. Naza, who teaches at our Stephen Decatur School site, comes to PAEP from Project Spotlight, one of PAEP’s Rostered Ensembles who can be found in PAEP’s Directory of Pennsylvania Artists in Education. Through Naza’s experience with Project Spotlight, she teaches the students exciting styles of dance that they don’t typically get to experience, such as ballroom dancing, jive, salsa, and hip hop. PAEP took this opportunity to get Naza’s perspective on the program this year and what it’s like working with Decatur’s students in the performing arts.
PAEP: What made you get involved in the After School STEAM Program?
NAZA BADAL: As a dancer it was always my dream to teach kids what I love. There are so many talented children in this world. The After School STEAM Program opens doors for these students to things they couldn’t even imagine. When I got this job, I was excited to meet the students and teach them everything that I know about dance.
PAEP: Why did you become a dance teacher?
NB: I became a teacher because it is such an amazing job and not everyone can do it. My mom was a math teacher and that played an enormous role. Being an educator is a big responsibility. When I teach the students a certain topic, and they actually learn it, I feel successful. Personally, I love taking on new challenges and exploring what can come from it. Teaching can change a student’s life and who doesn’t want to be a part of that?
PAEP: What are you looking to get out of the After School STEAM Program?
NB: The first thing is to teach kids about the arts. You never know what these kids are capable of until you teach them and they try it out. I’m looking forward to meeting new students and trying to teach them in different ways. The schools are multi-cultural and I think that plays a big role in the success of the After School STEAM Program.
PAEP: How do you think these children benefit from attending this program?
NB: The students who attend this program learn how to connect with other students that are of different ages and cultures. The students learn about a variety of art disciplines and the program works on improving the students’ behaviors. For example, at Decatur we have a few students with discipline problems. Their behavior has improved tremendously in the after school program. We even heard from a few staff members that the students’ behavior has improved throughout the school day as well. I think the After School STEAM Program helps children realize that the possibilities for them are endless. This is a good program, not just for the kids but also for us, the teaching artists.
Click below to see Naza’s work with Decatur’s students at an After School STEAM Program Open House that took place on November 21st, 2013. The Open House included extraordinary dance performances, theater performances, a visual art exhibition, and reception open to all parents, families, faculty, staff, and community members.
Watch the After School STEAM Program Video here: