Last week at Martha’s Table Collegiate Academy was a great introduction into the operations of this organization. Many of teens currently at Martha’s Table are participating in the Washington D.C teen employment summer program. The employment offered by Martha’s Table consists of four workshops that mostly cater towards improving/teaching skills in media, publications, communications and entertainment. This past week, I spent the majority of time in the Higher Learning and Beats to the Rhyme workshops. Higher Learning is different from the other workshops because it focuses on college preparation and exposure. On the other hand, Beats to the Rhyme focuses on creative writing in the context of Hip-Hop.
Higher achievement this week started by discussing the differences between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly White Institutions. SInce many of the teens in the program are African American, the discussion was appropriate and beneficial. That was only the start to opening a wider discussion about what higher education institutions they may be interested about. Next they all took a college match quiz and began looking for ideal schools they would want to attend. The workshop also went over writing prompts that can be seen on college applications. In addition the teens went over financial literacy and covered the concepts of loans and saving. Many of the lessons for financial literacy are computer based and contain many lessons related to this topic.
In Beats to the Rhyme, the workshop started by examining a song titled “Friends” by TLC. The teens started by reading the lyrics along with listening to the song. Then they all discussed the lyrics and highlighted a few lines that were meaningful to them. From the lyrics, they wrote a poem that could relate to their own lives. From “Friends”, they wrote about their friendships and how meaningful they were to them. Later in the week, they did the same exercise for “to fly” a song by Nicki Minaj in which they wrote about tough problems that they want to conquer.
Overall, the past week at Martha’s Table Collegiate Academy showed how great of a program this is for teens. Many of the skills taught last week could benefit them for many years to come. Also the activities actively engaged many of the youth such as in Beats to the Rhyme which analyzed popular songs of the present. After listening to and analyzing the lyrics they were able to connect with the song and express themselves through poetry. Many of the activities in these workshops was valuable information.
On a personal level, this program has tremendously influenced me and made me realize that I may be interested in working with youth as it is an extremely rewarding experience. I truly was moved by the emotional and intellectual connection I am beginning to establish with the youth of the program. I also found that connecting to the youth on a personal level allows me the ability to not only teach them, but also learn from them. Overall, I have had a very enriching experience thus far, especially as an African American man who can serve as a role model to the predominantly African American teens. I look forward to the many rewarding workshops I will have with the teens in the upcoming weeks.