Introducing: Storm Warriors Story-Telling School
This past spring, the Storm Warrior team embarked on some new territory in education and put on our teacher hats. We learned about a program nearby that helps guide middle school students in Union, ME to better learning techniques and prevents them from dropping out before high school. This program exists in a wing of the Union Elementary School, run by two dedicated teachers, Lowell Jones & Josh Carpenter, teaching a shifting student population of 10-15 every school year, and goes by the name of Rivers Alternative Middle School, or RAMS for short.
Their non traditional classroom is focused on hands-on learning and trade skills that engage the students, require their participation and holds them accountable for their own growth. Not only are they learning to improve their own skills, but they also give back to their community weekly in what they call the “Pay-It-Forward” program. They help with farming tasks at Brae Maple Farm, they deliver goods for local food pantries, they care for and walk dogs at animal shelters, and so much more.
Part of the RAMS program involves satellite learning. In December, 2018, the RAMS students were invited to the Farnsworth Art Museum to learn about a controversial artist named Ai Weiwei, through the Arts In Education Advocacy unit. This artist questioned and challenged his government through provocative art pieces. With the help of their art teacher, Anthony Lufkin, they brainstormed some common issues they noticed in their own community.
The brainstorming led them to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs, which are severe events that have detrimental effects on one’s brain and how that can lead to poverty. Each student chose a topic under the influence of the ACE factors, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse, bullying, obesity, incarceration, etc. They researched the topic and created a 3D model representation, then added it to a larger brain sculpture they all helped to construct.
Storm Warriors has seen an alarming trend in the affects of ACEs; several of the causes the team is helping to fight against, such as human trafficking, homelessness, opioid addiction and domestic violence are directly linked to the ACE factors experienced by children. The students’ research of ACEs through their art project is what really drew our crew to getting involved with their classroom learning.
Storm Warriors has been developing ways to teach Storytelling for Social Good to underserved students, and this opportunity happened to come at just the right time. We built a curriculum around their art project and taught the students how to conduct and film interviews with their classmates as the subjects. This project was an alternative way for the students to tell a story and still meet the standards the school system expects. Storytelling is part of the core curriculum for middle school students, and this collaborative project was able to pull the art, the writing, and the storytelling together.
There were some students who gravitated toward certain tasks such as operating the camera, monitoring the audio, asking the interview questions, or even talking on camera. Together, they constructed a solid sculpture and captured a compelling story on film that was on display over the summer at the Vose Library in Union, ME, and may find a home in the SAD 40 district. These are teenagers who have come a long way through the RAMS program, and should be very proud of what they have accomplished. Storm Warriors All!