I’m going on five years living in Long Beach and the only opportunity I’ve ever had to work with the youth of the city was through this STEAM summer camp. The idea was to match working artists with experienced educators to create a dynamic learning environment where kids would have access to new ways of thinking brought by creatives while benefiting from the structure provided by career educators. The reality was that I got placed at a site with 5 other people who had never ran a classroom before and the coordinator who was supposed to supervise us was fired in a racist incident within the first week.
By the end of that first Friday I had ordered enough supplies to cover my classroom for the rest of the program, and within the week I was running the whole site, designing our curriculum, ordering materials and training the staff. We made it though. I never saw an extra cent from that experience, but I was thankful that I could take the nine years of hard-won experience I’d accumulated and put it to work to serve the youth of Hamilton Middle School. We ran through every single workshop I knew how to do while staying within a reasonable budget. The kids had a blast, and the culminating exhibition took over a whole building in the school. I might’ve been blood-shot by 5pm every day, but hey. That was a make-or-break-it moment, and I’m glad we pushed through to the other side.