As a school in the South Chicago neighborhood, William K. New Sullivan Fine Arts Academy has had its share of struggles.
Principal and instructional leader Kathy McCoy explains, “Many of the kids are from neighborhoods that are very impoverished, so they are not exposed to a great deal.” But funding from the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund is providing new avenues of exposure for the students through music.
The mission of New Sullivan is “to develop and implement an exemplary instructional program in a safe environment that will progressively develop the multifaceted competencies of the whole child with an emphasis on core subjects, integrating fine and performing arts, while embracing the cultural and educational diversity of our ENTIRE student population.” With the help of the New Chance Fund, the school will be able to continue towards that mission. McCoy says, “With the money [Chance] so graciously gave our school, we’ve been able to start a band, we’ve been able to start a choir, and we’re in the process of beginning a drumline for the 2018-2019 school year.”
Michael Gore and Aaron Franklin are two music teachers who have joined the team at New Sullivan thanks to the funding from the grant. They are both from Muzicnet School of Music. “Without the fund, we wouldn’t be here,” Franklin explains. The new opportunities have already had an impact on the students. “It helps us get the opportunity to teach these children something they’re not used to,” Gore says, “and it helps us to get everything top-of-the-line so we can do our jobs effectively.”
The students have been ecstatic about the funding from the New Chance Fund. Sixth-grader Brianna Hamilton says, “I feel like it’s a great opportunity for students to come out of their shells and to say how they feel.” Getting to express herself with these opportunities through the school is important to her. “Personally I’ve written music before but I never really had the chance to share it out with other people, so I feel like it’s been a great opportunity for me as a writer and a singer.”
Principal McCoy is eager to see how the funding is affecting the kids at New Sullivan.
“With this opportunity, they’ve been exposed to music and instruments they’ve never heard and never played before,” she says. “This opportunity has allowed my children the exposure that I so want for them, so when I say they’ve become well-rounded, they’ve become well-rounded.” Besides broadening the students’ horizons, though, the new music programming has been a catalyst for changes in behavior. Principal McCoy says, “We’ve seen a decrease in behavior [issues] because kids are drawn to the music, so we’ve tied it into an incentive.” Additionally, the music programming provides an expressive outlet for all of the students. “They’re given the opportunity to feel good through the music.”
The teachers are excited about the outlets that music is providing. Gore says, “It makes me really proud to be able to see a student – when you show a student something and they get it. You can see it in their expression when they do performances or even when they just learn something new.” In turn, the students help drive the teachers every day. Franklin’s favorite aspect of being a teacher is the students’ success. He says that he loves “when I see the kids light up, when they’re enlightened, when they have that a-ha moment, and during performances at a school assembly. That feeling of achievement that they receive.”
Principal McCoy is looking forward to more parental and community involvement with New Sullivan.
She would like the public to see that it is a phenomenal school with phenomenal students. Community members are invited to come in to do art activities or other volunteer opportunities and attend community-based events.
Sixth-grader Solanja Davis has appreciated the opportunities the New Chance Fund has provided, and she has helpful words of advice to the world: “Do your best. Don’t give up.” These words of wisdom are great for all of the recipients of the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund as well as for anyone who needs it.
Learn more about the New Chance Arts & Literature Fund. You can also learn more about our mission and other initiatives like Warmest Winter Chicago and Open Mike.
Date & Time
Friday, November 16th