With two highly memorable pilot residencies now completed in San Francisco, our first year in Northern California has been an unqualified success. And our footprint is already growing in the region. SPIRIT SERIES plans to serve 500 students in six partner schools from San Francisco to San Jose during the 2018-19 school year and is about to hire a gifted Northern California Program Manager: Rajiv Shah.
A talented teaching artist, who comes to us from the Youth Cinema Project, Rajiv has a strong background as an actor, writer and director in theater and film, as well as years of experience sharing his craft with students. His skill, coupled with a deep alignment to the SPIRIT SERIES culture, mission and goals bodes well. A profound thank you to Willow Creek Charitable Fund for underwriting Rajiv’s position these next two years — their remarkable investment promises to awaken Northern California students to their strength of character and build bridges to our common humanity for all involved.
Thank you to our first two Northern California partner schools, as well: New Traditions Creative Arts Elementary and Lawton Alternative School. Katrina Tilds, sixth grade humanities teacher at Lawton assessed the SERIES impact: “My students were able to reflect on their experience authentically. Their response was amazing!”
But it was the transformation of one shy, sensitive chronically underperforming fifth grader at New Traditions that we remember most. Cast by lottery in one of the leading roles, he refused to participate, becoming more intransigent with each passing hour. Showtime now approaching, his classmates rallied to his side and somehow, as is so often the case, the affirming mantra of his SERIES leader finally sunk in. After his big performance success, he lingered…and suddenly gave us a hug: “I was sure I couldn’t make it. Thank you for believing in me!!”