- Community Arts Partner Name
- Meredith Arena
- Partner Type
- Profile Photo
- Individual Bio or
- Meredith Arena is a writer and interdisciplinary teaching artist from New York City with 18 years of teaching experience with youth ages 5-15, both in afterschool and school-day arts integration environments. She also conducts professional development for teachers in the area of arts integration. Meredith holds an BA in Cultural Studies, a BFA in photography and an MFA in Creative Writing. She creates and implements curricula that mix creative drama, movement, writing and visual arts. Her work with youth aims to cultivate self-confidence, compassion, joy, critical thinking, community and social justice. She wants her students to become aware of their inherent creativity and be able to access it when they most need it. She is currently an Arts Corps teaching artist in residence at Mt View Elementary school in White Center.
Grade Levels Preferred
- Grade Levels Preferred
- 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th
- Creative Drama/Storytelling/Creative Writing- poetry and performance poetry/ Media Arts - especially using text and imagery/ writing and photography
- Literary Art or Spoken Word/Performance Poetry, Theater, Multidisciplinary
- Previous School Partnerships
- Mt View Elementary (Highline)
White Center Heights Elementary (Highline)
Hazel Valley Elementary (Highline)
Cedarhurst Elementary (Highline)
Katherine Blaine elementary K-8 (Seattle)
Villa Academy (Seattle)
Mercer International Middle School (Seattle)
Middle College Highschool (Seattle)
Spruce Street Inn for Youth/Pioneer human Services (Seattle)
- WA State TAT Lab Graduate
- Other Trainings or Certifications
- Certificate Program in the Teaching of Creative Writing, Antioch University Los Angeles Completion date: December 2018
MFA Creative Writing: Nonfiction, Antioch University Los Angeles 2017
Teaching Artists Training Lab, Seattle 2017
The Interdependence Project Meditation Teacher Training Program 2011
- Sample Lesson Description: Student / Classroom Residencies
- Arts Integration
Performance/Nonfiction curriculum/ Mt View Elementary 5th grade: This class developed theater skills in the service of making choreo poems and tableaux. The following were all elements in this project: self-control, the levels used in dance instruction, creative decision making, group work, poses that tell a story, rhythm, coordination, rehearsal and synchronization. Their school topic was culture. We discussed our culture, identity and families, explored the idea that we can be part of multiple cultures at once. We also talked about what makes us strong and beautiful. In each class students perform new work , which created an exquisite pressure and built their confidence toward a larger final choreo poem performance.
Epistolary Storytelling: Working with small groups at Mt View Elementary, students tell a fictional story in letters. Each group can only hear the recording of the letters that the proceeding groups have made. Students learn elements of fiction like setting, plot, tone, character and story arc.
Media Arts/Hazel Valley After school: In this yearlong (2x/week) media arts class, students will make posters, take photographs, record their voices and use video to tell stories that are important to them. Students learn to analyze media and to use the necessary equipment. They work collaboratively on projects that are important to them and will be seen by the rest of the school.
Nontraditional Learning Environments
Writing Circle/Spruce Street: The Writing Circle is a safe space for youth to express themselves through writing and dialogue using writing prompts and a variety of writing techniques. Each session begins with my introduction and a go round for names and pronouns. I inform participants that no one has to write and no one has to read. I always start out by saying that their voices matter and that I hope writing will bring them joy and empowerment. We often begin by drawing a spiral, having a conversation or playing a theater/word game.
- Sample Workshop Description: Teacher Professional Development
- Poetry and protest: In this interactive PD, teachers learn about linking poetry with their social studies curricula in a way that addresses issues that are current and relevant to their students. Teachers will write and perform poems based around a topic they choose. The will also learn some basic arts integration definitions and poetic devices.
Inside/Outside Container: In this arts integration PD, teachers will participate in a multi media visual arts activity that integrates with learning about stereotypes, self perception, culture and prejudice. This activity, which is borrowed from a creative arts therapist, can be aged up or down and enhanced by teachers to work with various themes relating to identity.
Areas of Experience and Expertise
- Approved Professional Development Provider
- Approved Classroom Residency Provider
- Experience with English Language Learners
- Experience with Students in Special Education
- Teaching Philosophy + Approach
- All learning has an element of social emotional learning. Viola Spolin wrote that “Skills are developed at the very moment a person is having all the fun and excitement playing a game has to offer––this is the exact time one is truly open to receiving them.” In theater and writing classes, we play a lot of games and I emphasize that games help us develop skills and inform my students which skills we are developing. I scaffold my activities, using reverse engineering and then I make adjustments based on what is happening in the classroom. My course design is layered, with many opportunities to revisit information, think deeply, consider peer work, and self-assess. I often pose the questions – what is creativity? and how are you creative? I try to show my students that creativity is about making choices and that every time they make a choice in a game or their work, they are exercising their creativity.
I approach my collaboration with teachers as part of the creative process. I listen to what they are working on and what they need and then make suggestions. Then we dialogue and plan. I invite clear communication and boundaries. checking in frequently. I request that the teacher be part of our lesson. I ask for and offer feedback and make time for reflection when we complete the unit.
- Curriculum Integration Possibilities
- Writing, social studies, science, other art forms, humanities, social justice related curricula, identity related curricula, life-skills, leadership, gender studies.
- Special Skills and Areas of Expertise
- Bilingual - English/Spanish
Mindfulness & compassion meditation
Supporting other teaching artists to develop curricula
- Testimonials from Schools
- "You truly have a gift in working with young people and helping them take risks and share their voices. I enjoyed partnering with you in that endeavor, and generally it was just fun to teach with you! Thank you for sharing your time, your expertise, your talents, and your passion with the WCH community!" - 5th grade teacher at White Center Heights
- Rates vary depending on what is being requested.
- Image Description
- "Role in the Wall" for theater students to explore their characters, 6th grade. Highline School District 2016
- Image Description
- Meme/Poetry collage. Mixed Media. Spruce Street 2019
- Image Description
- Media Arts Project Plan, Highline School District, 4th grade. 2017
- Image Description
- Towers, mixed media sculpture, K-2nd grade. Highline School District. 2016
- Image Description
- Student movement script, 3rd grade. Highline School District. 2018.