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Building trust in school systems and communities takes great effort and commitment.

Whether that trust manifests in dedicated quality time for student and community needs, or being a familiar face for students to convey stability, this feat has been a long-time project at Beethoven Elementary. As a recipient of the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund, building such stability and trust is one of the biggest tasks Beethoven faces, according to assistant principal Laverne Wright. With the continued support and resilience of staff and partnerships acquired through the Fund, students and community members have been able to rebuild relationships and excel academically, emotionally, and artistically.

Through the New Chance Fund, Beethoven has been able to build extraordinary external partnerships.

Some of the programs students at Beethoven can now participate in include Brazilian martial arts classes and 3-D art projects such as sculpture and mosaics. Allowing students to build art with their hands was an important part of the vision principal Mellodie Brown had for students. Self-expression beyond pen and paper allows students to see themselves outside of the traditional art offered in classrooms. Engaging with various art forms offers students the opportunity to see themselves in a wide range of roles and through dynamic outlets. Through these experiences, Principal Brown hopes to bolster student self-esteem and confidence. She wants her students to “realize that they can make an impact and that they are leaders…they are intelligent. They can attend college or work hard towards achieving their dreams.” Seeing students in action and engaging with their new art materials demonstrates how art can facilitate such an environment.

During a recent visit to Beethoven, SocialWorks had the opportunity to see students in action in the art room.

There, Green Star Movement program director Jordan Taggart helped students build a mural that will be showcased at the front of the school’s building come summer 2019. Two students carefully pieced together bits of ceramic tile, clay, and mirrors to create eclectic patterns and shapes. Members of the SocialWorks team were lucky and even received a tutorial on how to cut tile from two of the students. Once they finished their tutorial, one student expressed how much he enjoyed working with Green Star Movement because he never knew that he would have the opportunity to create something on such a large scale for his school. The experience “was a dream come true for [me],” he stated. Shortly after, Jordan Taggart shared an ideation of the mural to-be. Gorgeous displays of hand cut and placed mirror and colorful ceramics stand proudly in the center panel of Beethoven’s entrance, an exciting and extraordinary feat for its students and community members.

If you happen to drive or walk by Beethoven in the Bronzeville neighborhood this summer in Chicago, you’re likely to experience the incredible art that students have created as a result of continued partnerships with programs throughout the city. There is no doubt that connection, trusting partnerships, and continued efforts to build social emotional learning environments continue to flourish through the New Chance Fund and Beethoven’s incredible community.

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