The school’s mission is to prepare youths and adults for educational and career advancement, through after-school arts and job training programming. “Our vision is to create a learning environment that inspires hope, innovation, creativity and excellence, while providing a path for individuals to revitalize the landscape of the urban community,” according to the center’s website, www.conncat.org.
“This is definitely an environment that I wanted us to be a part of,” said Director of Education Annie DiMartino. “The vibe there is safe and supportive. I love what ConnCAT stands for.”
“ConnCAT is excited to enter into this collaboration with the highly reputable Long Wharf Theatre. I have great expectations for everyone involved. There is a particular thrill in working with students who simply need a little push to become motivated and high achieving. I have every hope that the work we do together will awaken the artist and scholar in each child. This project has the potential to stir up the collective social conscience of the group as they wrestle with the present responsibility of taking ownership of the climate in their classrooms and neighborhoods,” said Genevive Walker, Director of Program at ConnCAT.
Teaching Artist Mallory Pellegrino will work with 7th and 8th grade students to create a performance of Dr. Seuss’ “The Sneectches,” a children’s tale about bullying, and an original piece on the impacts of bullying on the teens’ own lives. “Bullying is such a relevant topic these days,” Pellegrino said. “I remember from my childhood watching an animated video of the story, and when we were brainstorming about what we should work on with CONNCAT, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to bring the story to life and then have the students connect on a personal and deeper level.”
After the teens create the show, which will use puppetry and student created set pieces, they hope to tour the Seuss story to area elementary schools.
Long Wharf Theatre’s relationship with CONNCAT is part of the education department’s 30thanniversary season, a year in which the department has doubled the size of its staff thanks to a generous grant from the Werth Foundation. Long Wharf Theatre’s teaching artists will have residencies in five schools, including Fair Haven School, Connecticut Experiential Learning Center, Elm City College Prep, and Educational Center for the Arts.
In addition, Long Wharf Theatre will partner with another five schools on its innovative PAIR program. For teachers participating in Long Wharf Theatre’s Ed Lab professional development series, a resident teaching artist will be assigned to their classroom to teach an arts-integrated lesson monthly. “The PAIR program aims to assist teachers with effectively employing arts-based techniques for intellectual stimulation and creative growth in students,” DiMartino said.
Long Wharf Theatre efforts at education expansion are the reflection of a firm institutional belief in the importance of arts education in students’ lives –that the arts create well-rounded, creative thinkers, confident in social situation, and empathetic to the world around them. “Arts education helps with the development of analytical, practical, and creative thinking skills, which are the three pillars for successful intelligence,” DiMartino said.
For more information about Long Wharf Theatre’s education department, contact DiMartino at 203-772-8271 or visit www.longwharf.org.