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EDTAP Success Series: Victoria Rey

The ¡CityArts! blog presents the EDTAP Success Series.  Follow our five full-time AmeriCorps Expanded Day Teaching Artists as they use art to help teach math, reading, social studies, and more at two Providence middle schools, Roger Williams MS and Nathan Bishop MS.

Here EDTAP member Victoria Rey discusses an integration project that will have a lasting impact on her middle school students.

“Over the course of a year, I got to know the many personalities that fill the halls of Roger Williams Middle School (RWMS). One of those students was a quiet, mature eighth grader who I later found out was a teen mom. Coming from rural Georgia, where my school system had the #1 teen pregnancy rate, I knew what kind of challenges she faced. Throughout my 4 years of high school, I saw at least 10 of my peers drop out due to teen pregnancy. I feared this student wouldn’t make it through the eighth grade.

I was reminded of this student when in the spring, Dina Cappalli asked me to help her Current Events class with a video project advocating for sex education. At the time, there were no proper sex education or health classes at RWMS. Not only did the lack of health education leave students uninformed about personal care and hygiene, but they were also unaware of the consequences of being sexually active.  

Capalli’s Current Events class voted to do a one-week parenting project where each student was partnered at random with one of their peers to co-parent a flour sack “baby”. Parents would take turns taking care of the baby and, each night, the parent taking care of the baby would text Mrs. Cappalli at 2 a.m.—this would simulate late night feedings. Throughout the week, students collected data on teen pregnancy, documented their personal experiences, and planned a school-wide assembly presenting their project.

The students planned to make a viral video to send out to the community, educators and peers to show their experiences. We hit the ground running filming interviews with students, gathering statistics and formulating our overall message we wanted to send out. Throughout this process I saw so many of my students become advocates for themselves and the community of Roger Williams Middle School.

By the end of our filming and editing, we had a ten minute film that included student interviews, statistics, and even

an interview with that teen mother at RWMS. The students screened their film for the student body and went on to compete in the Generation Citizen Civics Day, which included students from the whole state of Rhode Island. The film won first place at Civics Day, and representatives from Planned Parenthood even came to speak with the class.  I am happy to report that not only will RWMS have health classes in the fall, but I got to see the young mother I’d met earlier in the year walk across the stage at eighth grade graduation.”