Lynn Classical High School. Not just the, honors or AP or theater students. 3,000 students so far and in 10 schools this year. We teach in mostly Title 1 schools and we have included ELL classes as well.
“I teach literature to students who have many talents, but writing can be a major challenge to bilingual learners who are often immigrants or first generation Americans. To have Norah and the other storytellers come into our classroom ... was like unlocking a vault in my high schoolers. Every one of them, from the most boisterous to the shyest, took their moment in front of an audience to speak. For some, this was the first time they published themselves.” • Sondra Longo, AP Literature and Composition Journalism - Lawrence High School
Students like Maho (Lynn Classical High), known for being shy and stuttering, get up and present a vivid world of a war-torn 3rd world village that their classmates never knew. Students like Sandy (Boston Latin Academy), an award winning slam poet and practiced performer, get up and challenge themselves to take it a step further. She told how watching her 4 year-old nephew die changed her life. Today, Sandy is at Simmons College and intends to become a pediatrician.
When students who live in a virtual “war zone” of poverty, violence and crime, heard Maho's (Lynn,MA) story about growing up in an actual war zone of Bosnia, their world and world view became much wider. When Sandy (Boston,MA) told her story of how a pleasant family birthday gathering devolved into the shooting of her 4 year-old nephew, students with more stable lives were able to connect a face and a voice to a story of human suffering that may have been every bit as exotic to them as Maho’s Bosnia. The students listen to each other with an intensity and respect that is beautiful to see. They are thirsty for this kind of connection and self-expression.
At the moment, massmouth,inc. is the only group that reaches a contemporary audience in clubs, cafés and even larger theater venues AND promotes traditional form of stories ( folk, fairy, myth, parable etc.) AND teaches, during school time, in the high school ELA curriculum. We run the only in-school, during instructional time, storytelling program and organize the only regional high school story slam in the country - if not the world.