On the eve of the summer solstice, Immersed is thrilled about this post—all about virtual summer camp, it’s another big first for The New Century School! With Weeks 1 through 4 run by TNCS art teacher Jia Liu, who is also a professional kids’ book illustrator, TNCS virtual art camps are divided into classes for K through 3rd-graders and 4th- through 8th-graders. Art camp runs throughout the summer, and if you haven’t signed your kids up yet, you’re going to want to after you see what campers created in just the first week—and how much fun they had doing it!
(After Week 4, TNCS virtual summer art camps are run by another TNCS Summer Camp favorite, Hilary Christian.)
Master Illustrators Virtual Summer Art Camp
Each day, campers logged into Google classroom, where they were given the theme of the day, a list of supplies to gather, and a Zoom link to join Liu Laoshi and their fellow campers in real time.
As you’ll see, Liu Laoshi makes art not only fun but also relevant in her step-by-step online demos. Campers create art that has meaning for them.
Session 1: Pattern Making
For their first day, campers were asked to bring copy paper, markers, and scissors. They created patterns, which Liu Laoshi turned into virtual pillows!
Session 2: Packaging Illustration
For Day 2, campers were asked to design and illustrate the packaging for a product of their choice, such as a favorite snack. This project combines creativity with a real-world application of art, using drawing paper, markers and scissors.
Session 3: Story Illustration, Day 1
Campers were asked to illustrate part of one of their favorite stories or even a story they wrote themselves (such as shown below), using drawing paper, markers and scissors.
Session 4: Story Illustration, Day 2
The next day, campers put the finishing touches on their illustrations with drawing paper, pencils, markers, and water color and/or tempera paints and painting supplies. “Don’t forget to bring your creative ideas, too!” instructed Liu Laoshi. This image shows an illustration from Hatchet, which was a novel assigned to 5th-graders during the school year.
Session 1: Moving Image
For the last day of Master Illustrators camp, campers learned basic knowledge about animation and GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) and animated their own flip books. They could use drawing paper, pencils, markers, and water color and/or tempera paints and painting supplies.
“The past week has been great!” said Liu Laoshi. “Students and I had a lot of fun, and we didn’t want to end the class every day. They were excited for a new project each day, and they had some great work done! I am looking forward to the coming weeks.”
Lydia Provencio joined The New Century School on August 5th to begin training for her new dual role. Less than 2 months in, she reports that, although there’s a lot to absorb, things are going well so far. “I’m learning,” she says, “and I like to do things in order of priority, which can be challenging for this kind of job because there are so many different aspects to be aware of.”
It’s worth reiterating that, for the first time, the After Care and Summer Camp Directors will be one and the same person, which brings all kinds of advantages, such as year-round access for parents, continuity for children, and fewer learning curves for Ms. Provencio!
Getting to Know Ms. Provencio
Ms. Provencio comes from Los Angeles, California, where she lived her whole life until moving to Baltimore 12 years ago with her family. She loves the East Coast, most notably for offering four seasons instead of just summer and spring.
Since the age of 17, she has worked with young, at-risk children. “I love kids,” she said. “I love kids. Period.” Her whole career until TNCS, in fact, has been with at-risk children, such as those in foster care and others. When she arrived on the East Coast, she started working for the daycare The Primeron in Odenton, MD. The owner asked her to establish a certified kindergarten/1st-grade program, which project she heartily embraced. “I love challenges,” said Ms. Provencio. “I had it done within the year.”
From there she became an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher for unaccompanied minors traveling from South America. “My job was to acclimate them to the educational system because many of them never had a formal education, or maybe had teaching through only about second grade. So I would try to help get them up to par grade level for their age. I taught in both English and Spanish.”
That’s right, Ms. Provencio is bilingual, which makes her ideal for TNCS. Back to her ESOL teaching, though, that program’s funding was cut off, and that’s how she arrived at TNCS. “I take care of my grandson and needed income, so I decided to venture out and see what new endeavors I could find.” She has six grandchildren, in total, with five of them living in California, as does most of her family. She is one of nine siblings and goes back west regularly to visit her parents, brothers and sisters, and other relatives.
Goals at TNCS
As mentioned, she is settling in well. Her approach is all about safety—adhering to protocols, maintaining a clean environment, and vigilantly supervising the children at TNCS. “We’re here to keep them safe,” she said. “We want to make a safe, enjoyable environment for them.”
As far as programs go, extracurricular activities (ECAs) for quarters 1 through 3 were already nailed down, which gives Ms. Provencio a bit of space to really get in step at TNCS. She can, however, bring some new life to winter and spring camps. “I want to bring in more art and maybe invite someone from the historical society to come talk—there’s so much history here. I want to find engaging ways to break up the day for campers and introduce them to new things.” She has begun bringing new programs into after care, such as Pets on Wheels, a pet therapy non-profit that brings happiness to people (and kids!) “one lick at a time.” Kody, a 4-year-old African mastiff mix, was a very welcome visitor indeed!
Although not a regular, ongoing program like Pets on Wheels will be, some other four-legged friends also visited after care students, making for a very exciting afternoon!
Then, in early winter, she’ll start working on always popular summer camp at TNCS, cementing summer 2020 offerings.
Final thoughts from Ms. Provencio about her work?
I want to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, and that is enriching and educating these children while keeping them safe. I really want them to take away something from camp. I want them to remember their experiences. I also want parents to know that I’m open to suggestions. I’m not infallible, so if anyone has any resources, please bring them to my attention, and I will reach out and see what I can do to bring that inside our little world.
When not taking care of students in after care at TNCS, she enjoys reading up on history and about other cultures. She also loves being outdoors and camping. Trying new foods as well as cooking—she’s half Italian, half Mexican—round out her pastimes. Ask her about her pumpkin ravioli with lemon garlic sauce . . . yum!
The New Century School is special for a great number of reasons, and several of those reasons come together in this week’s Immersed. To start with, TNCS offers hands-down the city’s most varied and exciting lineup of summer camps, and Musical Theatre camp led by the always marvelous Martellies Warren is a perennial favorite. Then there’s all that goes into what makes such a camp so effective and so wonderful for young learners—the arts, the music-making, the mixed ages collaborating so beautifully! Not to mention skills relating to the camp theme! But there’s one extra-special aspect to this year’s Musical Theatre camp that elevated it even further: four attendees from China joined the fun!
Meet Mike, Jane, Coco, and Alex!
“Mike” (Zimo Han), age 11, is from Hunan. “Jane” (Xinyi Ma), age 11, and “Coco” (Jiarui Sunn), age 9, both live in Beijing. “Alex” (Qinghua Shang), age 6, is from Tianjin. The group was in Baltimore for 1 week, after which they headed to New York, NY for 4 days of sightseeing (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, etc.). It was everybody’s first visit to the United States. Mike and Jane were accompanied by their mothers (Aili Mao and Jing Li), and Alex was accompanied by both his mother and grandmother (Yu Zhang and Aixian Zhang). The group also had a “handler” of sorts from the Harvest Company of China to help facilitate activities and make sure everyone was comfortable. They stayed in two furnished Baltimore row houses in the Bolton Hill neighborhood and enjoyed having three spacious floors of living space to run around in. Their evenings after camp were mostly spent relaxing at home, playing chess and other boardgames and watching tv—they even learned the idiom, “to click around” when referring to not watching anything in particular but channel surfing. The adults in their party cooked breakfast for them each day, but they had plenty of opportunity to eat their favorite food—pizza! Lunches and dinners were often enjoyed out at restaurants.
The kids spoke wonderful English as a result of lessons in school, but they also appreciated the chance to speak Mandarin Chinese with TNCS students. They reported having a great time and made lots of friends at camp. Back at home in China, their hobbies included playing basketball (Mike), drawing (Alex), reading (Jane), and figure skating (Coco). See some of their other talents below! While the kids were in camp, the adults did some sightseeing around town, taking in Johns Hopkins University and the Peabody Library, for example, as well as visiting the Naval Academy in Annapolis and getting some shopping in at Arundel Mills Mall. A Target run was also de rigueur!
Behind the Scenes
Because Peter and the Wolf only has a handful of roles, the 25 total campers took on roles as a group, so, for example, the character of “Duck” was actually four campers. Campers ranged in age from rising 1st-graders to rising 7th-graders, and they hailed not from just China and TNCS but from schools all over the city like Patterson Park Public Charter School, Hampstead Hill Academy, St. Casimir’s, and the School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Helping Mr. Warren lead camp was intern Carrie, who came to TNCS from China in early July and will stay for 1 year.
They learned important technical skills like stage blocking related to being part of a musical theatre production. Mr. Warren reported that they had the whole performance mapped out on the first day and so were able to devote their remaining days to rehearsing. After each rehearsal, Mr. Warren provided some debriefing notes for each group.
Comments like, “Wolves, wonderful job today! You were in time with the music, and you have amazing music to play off of!” and “Remember AIC? Always in character!” were common. The performers themselves likewise offered suggestions for how to improve a certain scene, like “Grandpa(s) should hang their heads and look disappointed in Peter.”
As per usual, campers made art to decorate the stage front. These are stunning!
They also crafted props and costumes and made great use of the Imagination Playground for set pieces.
The Play Is the Thing!
Mr. Warren introduced the performance and vowed not to interfere but to let his pros handle anything that came up. “They did an amazing job acting and putting up with my silliness,” he said. “It was wonderful!”
And now, we present Peter and the Wolf, in its entirety!
On the last day of camp, after the performance of Peter and the Wolf, Mike, Jane, Coco, and Alex treated the audience to some performances of their own.
They were also presented with Certificates of Participation in their English language immersion camp.
The adults who accompanied them were thrilled by the whole experience and were kind enough to share some of their impressions of the program. Alex’s mother is an English translation teacher at a college in Tianjin. Mike’s mother both promotes literacy and runs an Adidas store in Hunan. She also takes her job as mother very seriously and was very happy to be able to spend mornings with her son, here in Baltimore, cooking special meals. Jane’s mother is also in education.
They had various reasons for wanting their children to attend camp at TNCS. They wanted the authentic experience of a customized trip and did not want to be stuck on tours such as what a typical travel agency would offer. They wanted the flexibility to be able to have their possibly changing needs met, as Mike’s mom described it. They also wanted the chance to practice their English. Furthermore, their children tended to be shy, they reported, and they were hoping that an immersion summer camp might bring them out a bit. An ancillary reason is that they were very curious about immersion-style learning itself, which is quite rare in China. “The way you teach students and the way you live so freely is totally different from China. It really impressed me,” said Alex’s mother.
At TNCS Musical Theatre camp, Mike, Jane, Coco, and Alex were doubly immersed, in a sense, because they also had to get comfortable being on stage and making new friends. For this, the adults were beyond grateful. They saw their children bravely trying new things and quickly becoming comfortable doing so. “I still remember the first day Alex went to school,” said his mom, “and when he came back home he told me he didn’t want to go again because he was too nervous. The next day he came back and something had changed. He tried his best to join the class, and he was so happy from then on.”
Jane had a lovely time, too. She wrote a letter to her friends back home completely in English, which made her mother very proud. She was having so much fun with them that she stayed up late to make gifts for them. “She really cherishes the friendships she has made,” said her mom.
Normally very independent Coco experienced some homesickness at first but quickly adapted and returned to her gregarious, social self.
Jane’s mom mentioned that she noticed a big change in all four of the children after their week at camp. At first they were reticent, but they very quickly embraced the experience and were livelier than she had ever seen.
Mike’s mom’s nicest surprise was the Orient Express restaurant owned by a TNCS family. She said the Chinese food there was better than what she can get in China!
Alex’s grandmother was most taken with the arrangement itself. She appreciated being able to learn from the trip on their jaunts, while the children were having such a rich immersion experience. She also enjoyed feeling so welcome and commented on how friendly and thoughtful everyone has been. Monica Li got an especially warm compliment for all she did to make their time comfortable and smooth. Monica is indispensable to TNCS!
On their last evening in Baltimore, they were going to Tokyo Seafood Buffet, where they would be trying their first taste of Maryland blue crab. We miss them all already and hope they remember TNCS and Charm City fondly, as we will hold them dear as well!
For summer 2019, The New Century School has brought Candace Moore on board just as the second half of the school year started.
Background and Experience
Before coming to TNCS, Ms. Moore had been a short-term associate kindergarten teacher at McDonogh School, where she was standing in for a teacher on maternity leave, as well as teaching 2- and 3-year-olds at the Goddard School. Prior to that she taught reading literacy and art and did some mentoring at Lindhurst and Cherry Hill Elementary schools. She has taught students from age 2 through 8th grade.
From the breadth of her experience, you might think Ms. Moore has been teaching for years, but, in fact, she’s a recent graduate of the the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She is from Baltimore, born and raised, and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA), graduating in 2012. If you are starting to sense a theme, you would not be off base—the arts are extremely important to Ms. Moore. “I’m an artist first,” she says, “so I always put that out there.”
As for what my medium is, that’s kind of hard to put into one thing. I’ve been dancing since I was 3. So, I am a dancer and I’ve studied dance, but my major in both high school and in college was theatre. BSA’s curriculum was very strict so it was just theatre focused, but my college is a Liberal Arts institution, so I was able to take classes in child psychology, brand and behavior, and cultural dance—Spanish and African—as well. Overall my art expertise is dance, theatre, and painting and other visual arts.
Is there anything this superwoman doesn’t do?! Yes—she confesses to not being a sports person. Despite her technical training in modern and contemporary ballet, she says she does not have the coordination that sports require. (We can overlook this tiny evidence of her humanness.)
But don’t get too comfortable—there’s more. As to how she got involved in education, she says that career focus is a recent shift: :In my senior year of college, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do, because I do have experience with a lot of different things. From one perspective, it can seem like, ‘oh, wow, that’s great,’ but then from another perspective, it’s like, ‘okay, what do you do with what you know?’ So you have to put it somewhere.”
Art and Education: Tying It All Together
She began reflecting on education. Her first job was camp counselor at McDonogh, and her mother has been an educator for decades.
So I literally have always been around it, and I’ve seen the impact she’s had on people, specifically with special education and just really being a great teacher. She also taught me everything I know. So, my focus changed, and I realized that I wanted to teach the importance of emotional and social well-being through art. That’s kind of where I am now—developing relationships and fundamentals so I can move into incorporating that into a program of my own. That is one of my goals that I’ve set for myself. I don’t know specifically what it will be or what it will be called, but what I have in mind would use art as the resource to build social connections with teachers, students, and parents and would emphasize the need to express through art as a way to learn more about yourself and how to communicate better with others.
Using art in this way, to communicate, to tell a story, is something she personally has always done.
Art came into my life really when I needed an outlet to express. I’ve been doing it my entire life, but I started acting when I was 11, and a lot of people around that age are going through a lot. You don’t really know how to talk about your feelings to your parents or even your friends. All of these changes are happening and you’re growing up. Even now I recognize that it’s starting at an earlier age for middle schoolers and not really knowing how to release what it is that they are feeling. I learned through creating stories, my own stories, and creating characters as a veil to show and express what it is that I’m feeling but not really having to do it as me. Being able to use a character to say how I feel really helped me to see that I’m releasing it, I’m letting it go, and then I’m able to understand a little bit more about how I feel. Even through dance, the physical connects to the mental. A lot of the movement that I’ve learned is about connecting how you feel and releasing that through movement.
Candace Moore at TNCS
Directing summer camp at TNCS will be ideal practice for Ms. Moore’s intriguing approach to art and education. She has already been giving a lot of thought to how she will bring her ideas to bear in summer camp as well. She hopes to build a diverse community of educators who each have different ideas and perspectives that, taken together, will provide something beneficial to every student. Her primary focus right now, though, is learning the administrative ropes and developing best practice standards.
Overall I want the community to know that I’m here to support them, not just the students, but the families in every way possible as well. I want families to be just as comfortable about approaching any issues or changes in their lives or situations for the summer just as much as during the school year. I really want to reinforce the need for communication with everyone within the school as well. I plan to have a few meetings before the summer starts so all of the teachers know the expectations and everyone is on the same page and making sure all of the parents have all of their information as well.
Because she is already employed full time, Ms. Moore has taken on additional roles within the school while she readies for summer. While Monica Li is temporarily back in China, Ms. Moore is assuming some of her billing and office tasks. Another big part of her job currently is being the point person for Chinese exchange students, interns, and families. She is also teaching the students English As a Second Language (ESL).
Although I haven’t worked directly teaching ESL, I know that the purpose of the class is to get students to communicate, and much of theatre is about communication. A lot of the warm-ups and other activities are about group effort—working together and communicating, not just with your voice but with your body as well. Both verbal and physical communication are really important. It’s also really important to understand how to communicate physically because cultures do that differently. So, I think bringing that to them will be beneficial and help them feel more comfortable in the short amount of time that they’re here, especially for their ages. The oldest is 10 and the youngest is 7, and they will probably be a little shy. Let’s make it fun.
Let’s make learning fun. What a great note to end on! And welcome to the TNCS community, Ms. Moore.
Summer camps at The New Century School are not just for TNCS students—any student age 2 through 8th grade is welcome to attend. This year, TNCS collaborated with the Development Committee of Patterson Park Charter School to donate two specialty camp “scholarships” as part of a raffle fundraiser for PPPCS, as shown in the flier below.
Heading up the raffle was Development Coordinator Heather Savino, who describes her position as comprising two roles: “first and foremost, it’s fundraising, and, second, external communications.” She explains that the Development Committee is relatively new, and she took over as Coordinator for the 2017–2018 school year. The summer fun raffle was an effort to both raise funds for PPPCS as well as represent an activity that benefits students and families. Ms. Savino explains, “Someone on the committee mentioned that spring is the time that all of the parents are talking about where they’re sending their kids over the summer. Because not everyone at our school can afford summer camp, we decided to try to find a way to make summer camp more widely available.”
Sharing Values, Sharing Resources
Dr. Liz Obara, PPPCS’s Community School Coordinator, who oversees the school’s relationships with other Baltimore schools, organizations, and businesses, then suggested reaching out to these partners to see what kind of opportunities they could provide PPPCS families. Enter TNCS. TNCS Co-Founder/Executive Director Roberta Faux agreed to donate two summer camps for this very worthy cause: Spanish Immersion Camp and American Music System Camp. “We are very grateful for the collaboration between TNCS and PPPCS, and for TNCS’s support of our students,” said Dr. Obara. “We are all supporting this City’s children, so we recognize it’s all hands on deck—and collaboration is key. I love to see how organizations can work together to support each other.”
The raffle, which also included chances to win admission to American Visionary Art Museum, Maryland Science Center, Sky Zone, and more, was held June 15th. Tickets were $5 each, and the reception to PPPCS’s first-ever fundraiser of this kind was great. Not surprisingly, “the winners were ecstatic,” said Ms. Savino. Much of the success of the raffle is probably owing to its two-pronged approach of raising money and also providing community enrichment. “PPPCS’s vision is cultivating lifelong learners and helping families create strong neighborhoods, and so we want to make sure in everything that we do that we are striving to achieve that through our partnerships. We are so grateful to everyone who donated incredible opportunities and services for our families,” said Ms. Savino.
Meet a (Very Cute) Camp Winner!
Spanish Immersion Camp began July 23rd, and the winner of that raffle was none other than Dr. Obara’s family! As a parent of a 1st-grader at PPPCS and the PPPCS Community School Coordinator, Dr. Obara says, “I wear (at least) two hats at PPPCS, so I am doubly grateful for the donation of Spanish Camp at TNCS!”
For many important reasons, she is glad for this opportunity for her child:
As a parent, I am really looking forward to my son’s participation in the Spanish Immersion Camp. As a bilingual family, we value both our languages, but really find it difficult to sustain fluency in both languages. Spanish Immersion Camp will not only offer our son more exposure and practice in Spanish, but it will also give him such a fun association with the language—so that learning won’t be a chore! I also find it valuable that the camp will emphasize the culture of Spanish-speaking countries as well, so that the language-learning won’t be isolated from the culture. Finally, I think it’s important that my son sees the importance of language learning, and can be in the company of other kids and families that also share this value.
PPPCS hopes to do a similar raffle next year, and TNCS will continue to support their efforts to establish positive, collaborative partnerships among southeast Baltimore schools and organizations.
Like TNCS, PPPCS is a school that recognizes its impact in a neighborhood—not just for its students, but for the whole community. Schools that are committed to ensuring this impact is beneficial to all community residents are educating students in ways that go far beyond numbers and letters. As Dr. Obara put it, “Collaboration is key.” Research backs this up: When families, community groups, businesses, and schools band together to support learning, young people achieve more in school, stay in school longer, and enjoy the experience more.