Artist-in-Residence at Hillside Middle School

..the best I have seen in 21 years of teaching.” – teacher at Hillside Middle School

Musician/performing artist Randy Armstrong of Unu Mondo engaged hundreds of junior-youth students in an exploration of human unity and world citizenship during his April 2013 Artist-in-Residence program at Hillside Middle School in Manchester, New Hampshire. His residency was sponsored by ABC World Citizens in cooperation with With Open Minds.

More than a thousand students, teachers, and staff participated in Randy’s opening assembly concert. The world-music musician then offered hands-on workshops during the school week for all ESL, sixth- and seventh-grade students through the school’s social-studies classes and curriculum, a total of 23 workshops over his six-day residency.

Randy’s sessions addressed the importance of respecting the diversity of the school’s student population, which includes students who speak a total of 22 languages and hundreds of students from families who have come to the US as immigrants or refugees.

The workshops explored equality and the oneness of humanity and the importance for all students, regardless of their background, to study diverse languages, cultures, and customs. Randy emphasized the diversity of the school’s student body as a rich asset and opportunity to prepare for participation in an emerging global culture.

Through use of West-African drumming, he encouraged students to gain a sense of collective unity through rhythm and sound and participating in a unified group activity. His program also addressed students’ role as stewards of the planet’s environment, and of the protection of human rights for all.

The timely integration of this residency into the school’s social-studies curriculum came when students had just completed a unit on global geography. Hillside principal, Brendan MaCafferty, and teachers expressed their appreciation for a program offering that one teacher called, “the best I have seen in 21 years of teaching”. (See related New Hampshire Union Leader news coverage.)

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