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Flipping the Script on Teacher-and-Textbook Instruction

Detroit Future Schools artists use technology to open classrooms into spaces where students take ownership of their education.

Taking Young Poets To A Bigger Stage

A Flint-based arts group is helping young poets hone their talent with a goal to compete in an international youth poetry festival and slam contest. Along the way, they're making connections and spurring on other young spoken word artists.

Making Piano Accessible for All Kids

Piano Labs gives some of Kalamazoo’s most vulnerable kids and young adults a chance to make music and become pianists. 

Teens Transform Raw Ideas into Poignant Performances

At Matrix School of Theatre in southwest Detroit, young people write and perform original plays that entertain and educate, bringing to the stage crucial issues in their lives. 

Hip-Hop: Unifying Detroit Youth

Hip-hop gets a bad reputation, but a look outside the mainstream, at a small but powerful program for Detroit youth, provides a whole different view.

Casey Stratton

Casey Stratton, music program coordinator and instructor at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, strongly believes that music is important to all cultures as a way of expression and to keep their stories alive. He is helping youth create their own stories as they learn music and build relationships with caring adults through the Music Makers program. 

Kathy Catania

Decades ago, Kathy Catania and her husband Jerry laid the groundwork for today’s Benton Harbor arts district. Their pride and joy is housed inside a Victorian building, circa 1898, now home to Main Street Glassworks, where glass is blown, children grow, and art is internationally renowned.

Tori Pelz

CultureWorks Institute for Creative Arts is a Holland-based center with art at its heart and Tori Pelz at its helm. She oversees hundreds of underserved 6th to 12th grade students from the Ottawa and Holland public school districts who come hungry to learn creative arts that they would otherwise not have the chance to experience. 

Marjorie Kuipers

Marjorie Kuipers is concerned for kids who do not have enough food, who lack coats, boots and mittens to warm them, and who lack the opportunity to spike their grades with no-cost tutors or share what they learn with their families. Kuiper is the executive director of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, an organization that provides academic and social enrichment. She cares deeply about making a difference in the lives of struggling families.  

Liz Youker

Liz Youker, educational director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, wants to ensure that every elementary-aged child in Kalamazoo Public Schools has an opportunity to play the violin, cello, flute or oboe. Working toward that goal, she oversees Kids in Tune, which she considers a great career accomplishment.

Alice Brinkman

Alice Brinkman, executive director of REACH Studio Art Center in Lansing, approaches her role as a leader with passion. And although leadership doesn’t come as naturally as she would like, Brinkman is determined to confront difficult situations and learn better ways of doing things all in the name of growing a great neighborhood art center.

Anita Bates

As a working artist and ninth grade art instructor at Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, Anita Bates engages teens in the art of expression and creativity. She sees progress when students push themselves and make critical decisions independently with respect to their own art and design projects. 

Terry Blackhawk

Melding together the talents and energy of professional creative writers and students, Terry Blackhawk, Ph.D., founder of InsideOut Literary Arts Project, has been helping to turn Detroit kids into authors and poets since 1995. 

Lorena Slager

Lorena Slager taught art after graduating from Calvin College with a degree in art education. Then she opened a coffee shop, The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand, and most recently co-founded the Creative Youth Center, a nonprofit that empowers kids through writing. As executive director, Slager proudly works from the center’s new digs on Wealthy Street. 

Dennis Nordmoe

Dennis Nordmoe of Urban Neighborhood Initiatives believes that real change starts small in creating a better environment for a neighborhood, a street, or even a block. Since 1997, he’s worked to empower residents of the Springwells neighborhood to improve their community.

Roberta Lucas

Roberta Lucas, early learning director and training specialist for Living Arts’ ACT 1 program, grew up with a costume shop in the attic and a puppet theater in the basement, and produced outdoor productions each summer with other neighborhood kids. With the same enthusiasm, she is bringing artistic expression into Detroit classrooms to build literacy and encourage young students to create, express, grow and learn.

John Weiss

John Weiss was fortunate enough to discover his passion for working with youth early in his career. In his current position as executive director at the Neutral Zone, a teen center in Ann Arbor, he channels this passion by ensuring that youth are involved and engaged at every level of the organization.

Rashid Faisal

Rashid Faisal, principal of Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies in Detroit, is excited to be an educator in this day and age as we shift from an industrial society to a knowledge-based society. He says that it’s time for schools, like the public middle and high school academy he leads, to abandon archaic practices and embrace new practices that evolve and change with our ever-changing world.

Kim Dabbs

As executive director of West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), Kim Dabbs believes that all young people should have equal access to choices that will help them realize their potential. WMCAT’s Teen Arts Program helps to remove barriers to opportunity so that kids can flourish. 

Carol Hofgartner

As the founder and executive director of Art Road Nonprofit, Carol Hofgartner is inspired by art and sees how artistic creativity feeds so many careers. That’s why her goal is to have art class brought back to every school classroom in Detroit. 

Rhonda Buckley

After extensive education in music and business, more than a decade of teaching experience, and the eventual founding of a multidisciplinary arts center for inner-city youth in Washington, DC, Rhonda Buckley was lured back to Michigan when MSU asked her to serve as associate dean of the College of Music -- and develop a community music program in Detroit, her hometown. 

Aaron Dworkin

Aaron Dworkin is a 2005 MacArthur fellow, President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts, and founder and president of the Sphinx Organization. He’s dedicated to providing young people of color in Detroit and Flint the opportunity to succeed in classical music, however they define that dream.

Jo Anne Mondowney

Jo Anne Mondowney, executive director of the Detroit Public Library, calls herself an accidental librarian, drawn to the profession by the library’s ability to improve quality of life for anyone regardless of economic resources. Encouraging her staff to take risks and be independent is a hallmark of her leadership style.

Brother Jerry Smith

As executive director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen on Detroit’s near-eastside, Brother Jerry Smith sees his role as helping people grow and develop. That belief extends from the youngest children in after-school programs to agency staff, some of whom first came to the soup kitchen for services.

Melanie Knoll

Melanie Knoll is co-executive director with Cara Graninger of Living Arts, an arts and community development group serving the southwest Detroit community with arts-infused education and dance programs. She grew up in the neighborhood she now serves and finds it very rewarding to provide opportunities to children just like herself. 

Miranda Sue Hartmann

As the artistic director of All-of-Us Express Children’s Theatre in Lansing, Miranda Sue Hartmann shines a light on the talents of children, creating a safe, nurturing environment where children discover the pleasure and rewards of success. 
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