Afterschool Innovator

The kids at Jordan K. Mott Middle School should be jumping for joy.

Their LeAp (Learning through an Expanded Arts Program)’s Radical Arts Venue and Education Center was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation after it was recognized as an “Afterschool innovator”.

Students involved with the program held a special performance for MetLife Foundation and Afterschool Alliance officials entitled “El Barrio”, on Thursday, October 21, to show off what they had learned in the club.

The show featured songs, bands, slam poetry, dramatic scenes, cheerleading, drill team exercises, dancing and jujitsu demonstrations, among other things.

“I wasn’t surprised when I found out that we were one of only six programs in the country to be receiving the award,” principal Linda Rosenbury said before the performance. “I’m so excited for the school, this is such a well-deserved award.”

The center teaches about 300 economically disadvantaged and culturally underserved middle school youth in the Morissania area. The program uses all arts, from photography and video to Capoeira, poetry and community action projects to engage students in creative pursuits, so they can succeed academically and creatively, program officials said.

The program at the school was started six years ago, and the improvements have not gone unnoticed at the school.

“I started my career with first graders, directing the chorus and the band, so I know the importance of art for these students,” Rosenbury said. “As a principal I am blessed to have this partnership with LeAp.”

Although the program was one of only six to receive the award, they were joined by 7,500 schools across the country in celebrating afterschool programs during the week, known as, Lights on Afterschool. The rally of events was organized by the Afterschool Alliance.

“This is really about you,” Ila Lane Gross, executive director of LeAp, said. “We are celebrating the success that you made possible. I’ve had some great successes working with your from this school. Every afternoon kids produce memories and build the skills they need to succeed. Our city is leading the nation in after school programs. You’re doing incredible work here and I have no doubt that you will be leading the nation tomorrow.”

To win the award from MetLife, the school was nominated in April for providing multiple benefits to school students, promoting health and wellness for teens and pre-teens, preparing middle school youth for college and careers incorporating science, technology, engineering and math-related disciplines into the work.

The grant will allow them to expand the services, officials said.

“This grant is a great award,” Jim Pugliese, R.A.V.E. Center supervising director, said to the crowd at the special ceremony. “Since starting this program has really developed and we without you all, we could not have done it without.”

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