Each Friday, we highlight one of our 2019 Fellows — their inspiration, itinerary, and plan for transforming student learning going forward. Today, however, we celebrate the completion of our first fellowship of the year!
Kristin Gladish (Newcomer Program – Indianapolis) obtained permission from her administration to embark on her fellowship during the first week of May — the only time UCLArts & Healing offers facilitator training for Beat the Odds, a trauma-informed program that integrates activities from group drumming and counseling to build core strengths such as team building, leadership, stress management, empathy and gratitude.
“In short, my fellowship was amazing!” said Kristin. “As a student, then practicing as the facilitator, I learned how to mix in drum circle facilitation with affirmations, rhythm games, and activities to increase students’ focus, listening, self-awareness, and self-expression. The goal behind all of this is to incorporate counseling techniques into drum circles and help students who have experienced trauma.”
For Kristin, that includes all of her students — refugees or newly arrived immigrants hailing from 15 countries and speaking 21 languages. Of her 257 music students in grades 2-10, 100 percent are minorities and qualify for free and reduced lunch.
An extension of her fellowship includes working with a local “Beat the Odds” trainer, which will help Kristin build local partnerships and community collaborations. In addition to the musical implications of her fellowship, she is also learning how to measure the results of the program through documented observations, pre- and post- student surveys, video evidence of musical/rhythm/social improvements, and attendance and grade data.
Kristin, who holds a bachelor and Master’s degree in Vocal Music, wasted no time implementing her fellowship. For the final three weeks of school, she is introducing the new drumming curriculum on instruments she also purchased with FFT grant money.
“Every country has some sort of drumming, and each student, no matter what language they speak, can learn to play a rhythmic pattern together and to keep a beat together,” said Kristin. “Beyond that, students will learn methods to relieve stress and to express their
feelings through drumming and words — valuable coping methods for students who experienced trauma and violence in their home countries and come to school struggling with inattention, depression, PTSD and anxiety.”
Kristin has taught music for 11 years in Lousiana, Texas, and now Indiana. She was the 2019 Teacher of the Year, and was a Top 10 Finalist for the Indianapolis Public Schools District Teacher of the Year. Kristin has completed her Level 1 Orff Training, and enjoys sewing and hiking in her free time.