FFT Fellow Chris Smith and 15 of his students recently hosted the first Chicago Immigrant Refugee Resource Fair at Mather High School. The story behind the event, shared below by Chris, demonstrates the true ripple effect of a Fund for Teachers grant. This high school music teacher designed a fellowship to attend the Blas International Summer School of Irish Traditional Music and Dance at the University of Limerick to enrich orchestra curriculum by integrating elements of Irish folk music, ensemble skills, and improvisation. He shares the progression of learning from there below. We are proud of you and your students, Chris!
“I have continued my study of Irish traditional music since 2013 when I was awarded the FFT fellowship, which was transformative to my teaching in many ways. Not only have I incorporated lessons that I learned in my teaching strategy, but my support from FFT has led to many more opportunities for me and my students
Last summer, I attended the Swannanoa Gathering outside Asheville, NC, to again study under Martin Hayes, a teacher from Blas. I also received a small grant from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which I used to host a lecture/performance and workshop by members of the Irish Music School of Chicago.
Additionally, I was inspired at write a grant proposal (which was funded) which allowed for a residency at Mather High School by renowned traditional Irish performer Kathleen Keane. Over the course of two months, Kathleen visited Mather to perform and work with a small group of motivated orchestra students. She taught them a set of traditional jigs which they performed in concert.
Because of my FFT experience, I was also awarded the Teaching for Global Classrooms fellowship by the US State Department. In summer 2016, I traveled to India and, in part, taught music at a school in Vadodara, Gujarat.
Based on my TGC fellowship, I was able to apply to then attend a conference for alumni of government sponsored international travel. As a participant, I was invited to apply for money to create a project on the subject of inclusion. I was awarded a grant from the State Department to organize and implement the Inaugural ChiUnderOneRoof: Chicago Immigrant and Refugee Resource Fair. My students and I hosted hosted 25 local community organizations who work to support our immigrant and refugee population.
Parenthetically, since my fellowship, my wife has been awarded a fellowship along with one of her coworkers and three teachers at my school. These are just a few of the things that have resulted from the opportunities afforded me by Fund for Teachers.”
Click here to read Chris’ description of how planning the resource fair impacted him and his students.