“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
The Racial Unity Team has been selected as the 2023 N.H. Governor’s Arts Education Award recipient. This award recognizes an individual, nonprofit organization, school district, or community that has made an outstanding contribution to arts education within the past three years through sustained contributions to arts education in the classroom, leadership in a school, and the implementation of a comprehensive arts curriculum to
Piloted in Exeter High School and now in its fourth year of building wareness in communities, Arts in Action has been tested in Bow, Oyster River, and Dover high schools. The direct connection between students and their surrounding community has a twofold effect; students begin to realize through their classroom learning experience that members of their community are not only interested in what they have to say, but also that they are willing to help.
The Racial Unity Team’s innovative and inspiring Arts in Action project provides students with sustained opportunities to hear a multiplicity of voices that round out a classroom’s curriculum and to share the experience and expertise of informed people in the community and across the nation, and it offers a platform for students to voice their
lived experience and hopes for the future.
At Racial Unity Team, we offer a range of programs to support our community-to-school partnership. Our programs are designed to meet the unique needs of each individual school we serve.
As students have said after being in the Arts in Action mural project at Dover High School,
“We all have to work together to make this a better place for all.”
“Everyone should get an equal portion of life, uninhibited by systemic racism, oppression, and systemic inequality that America is built on.”
“People shouldn’t have to live in fear. I want to make this world a better and safer place.”
“I was inspired throughout all the drafts of my art by the saying, “Hate has no home here.”
We are proud to partner with Dover High School a variety of organizations and businesses came together to support the mural project. Our partnerships enable us to expand our reach and provide even more resources and services to schools.
The Racial Unity Team helps build awareness and educate New Hampshire school students about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. NH legislators are questioning the value of academic studies of our history of discrimination. Legislation has been written stating that “diversity education is divisive;” whereas, the common goals of our teachers, RŪT, and the curricula are to help students to do heart work while building their knowledge of ways that the status quo hurts all of us and especially people of diverse races and ethnicities.
We hope everyone involved will be inspired by the work of our students, watch a video of their presentation, listen to a podcast session involving students, read about the projects they have worked on about diverse characters and figures in society who are not like themselves and support them to bring change for the better in the communities they live in.
Dover HIgh School mural project
Stratham Memorial School NH is the pilot for the Lifting Literacy project. The education program uses units of study in both reading and writing. The school uses a reader’s and writer’s workshop to reach all learners in the classroom and a Balanced Literacy approach. Teachers use Guided Reading to teach in small groups to target reading skills. While efforts have been made from Lucy Calkins and other authors at Teachers College at Columbia to rewrite units from a more racial equity lens, the school extends the work further by including texts in the classroom libraries to support literacy from a more diverse lens and by continuing this professional dialogue with the use of a consultant.
This project would reach approximately one hundred students engaging the full second grade and its five classroom teachers. The goal is that every student is able to access the core curriculum and then receive tiered support in addition to the core classroom curriculum instruction as needed.
The literacy component for the education program includes:
The school uses the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking system to assess and monitor reading growth three times throughout the year. The impact of this project will be measured by student reflection at three points throughout the year through class discussions, responses to reading, and additions to our second-grade mural in the hallway. Students articulate their connections and new learning in relation to the books they are reading.
The reflection will take place in three phases:
Classroom reflections are TBD - Action required by the Project Team. Teachers will provide the following written reflections after each phase of the project
The project provides a list of books for the classroom specifically selected by the teachers, and with the support provided by ambassador libararians.
We need volunteers to help us run our programs effectively. Whether it's event planning or administrative tasks, your support can help us achieve our goals. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Become part of our network of organizations and individuals working to create a better future. Join us and connect with like-minded individuals who share your values. email: email@example.com
Greetings to you from the Arts in Action Project Team. Here is an update on the project currently underway with students of EHS ninth grade English classes. After students watched four video productions specifically designed for the class unit, we find students are making references in class to things they’ve learned from the mentors. RUT now can proudly claim to be part of the DNA of the course. We’re hearing student ideas for creative projects percolating. We are making plans to offer students coaching on creative project production – to assist them in developing their ideas. Watch the videos to get a better understanding of students' comments; it adds more depth to their words. We hope that this segment brings you into the classroom and we would love to hear from you about this project as we look to expand its scope to other Seacoast area School Administrative Units (SAUs). Send us an Email or include your comments in the Comment section of the Contact Us form.
Provides an introduction to the program - The Arts Are About Connection - and what each student may expect by getting involved in the project.
This video introduces his background and work he is presently doing to further the conversation on race. He gets us thinking about the meaning that our culture assigns to the skin we're in and how our art has the power to change a culture of bias to one of equity and inclusion for all.
The material is copyrighted and meant for use in connection with the Racial Equity program in Exeter, NH.
You're invited into the space she occupies, one surrounded by art, social change and protest posters - to hear how this space influences her and the work she does. She states the historical fact that it was once, for a prolonged period in U.S. history, a punishable crime for a black person to learn to read or write. Courtney asks us, "How did people keep their sparks of creativity alive in that world of exclusions? What if Beyonce were not allowed to sing today? " She ends with suggestions for opening doors to creating - imagining the better future we all know is possible.
You'll watch singer-songwriter Bob Marley inviting oppositional leaders to join in establishing peace in Jamaica during a time of violence that had been ravaging their streets. Kevin shows us the arts' place in changing history and encourages us to experiment to find our best method and style of expression to speak up for freedom - still being negotiated in 2021 for black U.S. citizens.
Whether you’re on edge or need a boost, even just one song can bring you back to a more even and healthy place. When it comes to your mental health, music can: Help you rest better, lift your mood, reduce stress. Here are some tips to use music. Listen to relaxing music, express yourself with a beat, write a song, create a mood play list.
"The project is already a success in my mind, and we're only halfway through. I've never seen my students so inspired to research and write about topics they are truly passionate about. The artist mentors have not only helped show my students that they have a voice, but they've also inspired my students to use their voices in powerful and purposeful ways".
Exeter High School 9th-grade student comments:
Everything that I have learned in this unit has made me really reflect back on my own history and provoked me to be more aware of how racism is happening so often that is going unnoticed, and after watching these videos I feel inspired to do something about it.
This whole unit has changed my thinking, since it has broadened my horizons and helped me understand different perspectives and opinions that I hadn’t thought about before.
This unit has made me think more about the world around me and how I can make it better.
How has everything we’ve read and talked about during this unit changed or challenged your thinking? - Students respond
. . . it has challenged me to think about how much I am learning about today’s issues, and not just issues, but those who have seen those issues first-hand and experienced them from a lens I will never see through no matter how hard I read. I’ve realized that I have not read or looked at, consciously or unconsciously, many pieces of art from black people or many people of color either.
... I’ve been looking at my education through the years, the people painted out to be heroes, and villains and written all over it is the “European vision” that Reggie and others talked about with us. Another thing I’ve been enlightened by watching these videos is how important art is to our culture, our lives, and even things that can be as harsh and violent as politics. Art at our school and at many others in the US, is one of the things least acknowledged and praised as a subject. People look for our GPAs and As, Bs, and Cs but never any deeper than those numbers, and that makes it harder for students to see the importance of art in all its different forms.
...I think a lot that we read brought to my attention how bad it really was and still is for many black people. I feel like before this year I was ignorant toward that aspect, but now I’m trying to educate myself more and learn about the struggles.
... I’ve also realized the power of literature. I didn’t realize that songs, books, and poems could make such a difference, but they can. One thing that really stood out to me was the Bob Marley concert where he got the two political rivals to stand up there and hold hands. I realize that art can help bring ideas and inspire people to make positive change. Another thing I realize is . . . that I don’t read that many novels or poems by people of color. That is one thing I would like to change.
...The Arts in Action project provided us collaboration and creative freedom. It also allowed us to carry our message across, specifically for the action project we connected to the topic of mental health and created a mural. This project granted us the opportunity to produce the product in an innovative manner that was enjoyable and memorable. In the hallways, we would spend the afternoons painting our mural, listening to music, and dancing during breaks. Our friendship that was created from the passion we shared about this project was most memorable. The Arts in Action unit was our favorite and we truly loved it the most.
Shayla Gerkin & Beatriz Mella
....The Action Research project at the end of the unit is a project that has really stuck with me even as a sophomore as it taught me what things I am truly interested in and forced me to internally understand my identity as a half Japanese American. This is due to the project having an open-ended prompt: What change do you want to see in this world? I usually don't appreciate an open-ended question, but this really intrigued me since I could make it personal and I could format my final work in any form, not just an essay. So, I got to thinking and landed on focusing on my Asian heritage, or more specifically how MSG seasoning is often stereotyped as being too exotic or unhealthy.
With few Asian students in my school I knew how important this topic is to share with my fellow classmates so I wanted to present my research in an easy form for teens to take in, a cooking show. With help from my friend I filmed the show and included an educational section explaining how misconceptions around MSG are untrue and also harmful to Asian American communities. After editing the video and seeing all my other classmates' projects come together we began sharing them with each other. I remember seeing all sorts of different topics from homelessness to teen mental health. Additionally, Mr. Magliozzi picked my video to go on the Creative Mornings showcase of excellent student work during the Arts in Action unit. I took the opportunity knowing this showcase would reach outside the school and into the Exeter community, just as I had hoped it could. The process was fun and relaxing while also being quite serious (considering the depth of some topics) and academic because much of my research included going through medical and scientific studies. I couldn't thank Mr. Magliozzi and Ms. Peterson enough for creating a project that gave myself and my classmates space to show who we are and change the world as we did it.
Thank you for reading,
The DEIJ - diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice - initiative across SAU 16 has recently taken on more focus, structure and form. Three teachers have collaborated to reset their lenses and ask the tough questions about how and what they teach with DEIJ in mind.
This year, they have partnered with Racial Unity Team (RUT) to transform how they perceive and teach the classic novel written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has been the subject of conversation in countless classrooms for six decades. Magliozzi and Peterson, both English Teachers, have been working with Mockingbird for 10 years at Exeter High School. Despite their best efforts, they could not find a way they felt cast the discussion about issues of race and equity in a
way they felt worked well. This year, one of their goals when reading Mockingbird is to critically examine why Harper Lee focuses on certain characters and round out those whose stories are not told. This move to look at the novel through the lens of underrepresented characters in the book has served as an entry point into critical conversations about race and equity.
When aligning this approach to a world view in 2021 versus one from a small Alabama town in 1960, it is clear there are real shortcomings in the book as a solo unit. It didn't do what the teachers hoped it to do by
itself, but there was great potential to leverage it. “In some ways, we can see Harper Lee’s novel as her attempt at using art to change the world,” Peterson said, “and we want our students to do the same.” That’s when the lightbulb went off in terms of curriculum – the teachers began to team up to use Mockingbird as a piece from which to launch their students into action research.
Their approach became to study Atticus Finch’s world view by asking students questions such as these:
● Have we realized his vision for justice in the United States?
● If so, how?
● If not, what changes can we make to get there?
● What change do you want to see in the world?
● How can you affect that change?
From there, students are invited to create art as a form of expression to further their impact. That’s where Adam Krauss, ELO Coordinator in the school, joined the mission. Krauss helped Peterson and Magliozzi
join forces with several mentor artists from The Racial Unity Team. This partnership allowed students to hear from individuals who shared how they and others use art to make an impact on the world, and how
they grapple with the realities of being Black in America. Working side by side with these artists, students are learning to govern their voices and use art to inspire others. The final component of the student work is – with the help of the mentor artists – to turn their research for social change into art for social change.
Power opens up doors or prevents doors from opening. In this work three central things play out in this project: the injection of these professionals and their voices empowers students to claim voices of their own; the initial collaboration between these three teachers has led to collaboration among other colleagues and members of the community; and the resulting creative expression, which can be through art, music and/or the written or spoken word.
Krauss, Magliozzi, and Peterson are trying hard not to send the message that one voice is the end all be all. “Our students have just as much agency in this project and conversation as we do as their guide on the side,” said Krauss. Students have just as much power to criticize, challenge, and change their world – our shared world – as everyone else involved in their education. That’s equity and inclusion at work. It’s a vision for justice Atticus couldn’t attain. But lifting up voices, ensuring people from all backgrounds and experiences are welcomed and their stories are heard – that is a vision for justice that all teachers can
Racial Unity Team’s Spoken Word and Song Writing for Social Change aka Arts In Action project brought artists into the classroom to tell their stories of using the arts to heal and to advocate for justice. The artists then mentored youth in creative expressions of a future without racism, where everyone has opportunities to thrive and participate in civic life. Songwriting • Poetry • Spoken Word • Editorial. Eight teens from Exeter High School will share their creative expressions from this incredible collaboration at this unique CreativeMornings Portsmouth event.
If you like the work, we are doing please donate towards the work we will do during the 2021-2022 school year. Another school will be selected for the program to donate visit our website racialunityteam.com
This question made the shift to students’ finding their voices and learning how to apply them in their creative expressions.
The "Bookshelf Diversity" project grew out of the RUT partnership Arts in Action with Exeter High School ninth grade English teachers in their unit on justice, equity, and social change. In her class presentation, student Ingrid Janicki's project "Bookshelf Diversity" emphasized bringing more voices to our students' worlds/ perspectives and not in tokenism through performative diversity, but instead, healthy readings that honor natural inclusiveness versus reading diverse books on Chinese holidays or celebrations of progress for under-represented groups. Ingrid advocated for reading books as if most stories could have people of any identities playing out the plot lines as well.
As a musician and social justice advocate, Sylvia served as manager of “Culture Keepers | Culture Makers,” a project team that created an art show and panel discussion on how art changes lives. The works were displayed at the Racial Unity Day gallery and Seacoast NH libraries to build awareness of racism and to envision our communities without racism.
Recently retired from UNH’s Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity, Sylvia designed programs to build self-awareness, inspire policy changes, and honor diversity as a community value across campus—in classroom, curriculum, and campus life. She teaches in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at UNH.
Kristina Peterson has been teaching English at Exeter High School since 2008.
Kristina has a Masters degree in teaching. She also teaches in the UNH Writers Academy, mentors future and current teachers, writes SEL curriculum for the Emozi program, and is the Secretary of the New Hampshire Council of Teachers of English.
Dennis Magliozzi has been teaching English at Exeter High School since 2008.
He has an MFA in poetry and is currently enrolled in the Philosophy of Education program at UNH.
Listen to his work at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ryXm8byxW0
Reggie Harris generates courageous conversations, getting us to do deep thinking on issues, build our self-awareness, and use our voices to advocate for peace and justice.
A master storyteller, musician, and educator, he is affiliated with The John F. Kennedy Center’s “Partners in Education” program. His impressive work over decades with students and teachers has aided in the expansion and enhancement of curriculum standards for all grade levels. Mentored by the foremost authority on the Underground Railroad, Dr. Charles Blockson, Reggie is one of the premier interpreters of the use of music in historical movements for social change.
A fresh and innovative voice in music and digital content, Kevin Writer is Los Angeles-based as a music supervisor and producer. With a keen ear for musical color and the ability to redesign structural elements from popular music into symphonic idiom, Kevin brings dedication to the producer's intent, respect for his musician colleagues, and a spirit of collaboration with each
composer and filmmaker he meets.
Doug Holzapfel immersed himself in the music industry in Los Angeles as a songwriter and music producer. He has worked with numerous recording artists and major labels creating works in styles ranging from pop and hip hop to rock and jazz. He scored TV shows for DreamWorks and Netflix and earned a platinum record for his contributions to the DreamWorks' feature film Trolls.
Courtney Marshall, PhD, posted on her Facebook page: “I am a Black feminist fitness instructor and high school English teacher. Let’s get free!”
Courtney leads dialogues on race, gender, and social justice issues and is an advocate for—and writer on—prison reform. She was a facilitator for the UNH MLK Leadership Summit for students and has run literacy groups at the Berlin, NH Correctional Facility in hopes of improving prison life by bringing literature to inmates. Over the years she has taught as a professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNH and as an English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy.
Adam Krauss is the Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) Coordinator at Exeter High School, following several years teaching U.S. history and government. He is active with the Seacoast Educators for Equity and N.H. Leaders for Just Schools.
Kate Freear-Motor is a practicing artist and educator in the state of New Hampshire. She has been teaching art at Dover High School since 2001. Kate has a BFA in Studio Arts and a MA in Teaching, both from The University of New Hampshire. In the past year she has worked with the “Arts in Action” team on a mural with guest artist Richard Haynes, embracing inclusion and equity in the Dover community. Kate will be teaming up with “Arts in Action” again this school year and has plans for an interdisciplinary project.
Richard Haynes Jr. is a New Hampshire-based artist nationally recognized for his paintings and photographs. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he studied at New York City’s High School of Art & Design and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam era. When he returned home, his middle school teacher encouraged him to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Lehman College (City University of New York), and then a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute (Brooklyn). Until recently, Haynes served as Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity at the University of New Hampshire, where “Higher education is a must” was his key message to prospective students.
Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, which was a #1 New York Times Bestseller, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2021. He is also the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. His forthcoming collection of poetry, Above Ground, will be published March 28, 2023.
My name is Mike Durkee.
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