Seeing a Broadway Show Is So Much More than a Field Trip for NYC Students | Playbill

Education News Seeing a Broadway Show Is So Much More than a Field Trip for NYC Students

New York City Public School teachers, the city's unsung heroes, reflect on a challenging year and the transformative impact of Broadway on their students.

Situation Project students on the way back from Back to the Future on Broadway

Playbill has partnered with Inspired to create and amplify stories of inspiration that advocate for access to arts and cultural experiences for young people across the country. The following article is written by the team at Situation Project and adapted from their online publication Inspired. Click here to learn more.

With summer vacation now in full swing for hundreds of thousands of NYC students, New York City Public School teachers finally get a well-deserved moment to rest and recharge. These educators, the city’s unsung heroes, have navigated a long and challenging year, continuing to shape and inspire young minds amidst unprecedented times.

In a candid conversation with Inspired, educator Shantanu K. Roy shared the stark realities faced by his students. "We are located in…the poorest congressional district in New York City. Not all the kids have the opportunity to engage in art and theater due to a lack of resources...We lack basic, necessary resources," he emphasized. Yet, despite these challenges, partnerships with arts education organizations like Situation Project, which bring additional support to schools that are struggling, have provided a lifeline.

Roy, a passionate advocate for arts education and an educator, has seen firsthand the transformative power of the arts within the educational landscape.

This past school year, Situation Project facilitated numerous opportunities for students to experience the magic of theatre at some of this year’s hottest shows like Purlie Victorious on Broadway and Jelly’s Last Jam at New York City Center. These experiences transcend a common field trip; for most students, this was their first experience seeing a show on Broadway, a world-renowned cultural staple that is effectively in their backyard. 

"Going to a Broadway show helps these kids in so many ways, like with their English learning skills, as they have to use their listening skills to keep up with the performance," Roy noted. Additionally, these experiences contribute significantly to college and career readiness by exposing students to potential new pathways they might not have otherwise seen.

Donald Webber Jr. and Situation Project students at Purlie Victorious on Broadway

Integrating Arts Into the Curriculum

Roy's school has integrated art, dance, and music into the curriculum for all grades. This consistent exposure to the arts has unearthed hidden talents and provided students with the confidence to pursue their passions. "Over the years, we've done art exhibitions and found talented kids with whom we have worked to build portfolios and send them to art-based high schools," Roy shared. This approach not only boosts students' confidence but also provides them with tangible pathways to follow their dreams.

Reflecting on the significance of arts education, Roy emphasized its vital role in offering students a platform to express themselves and explore diverse career options. "Our kids understand that they don't have to become an engineer or doctor; they can become a Broadway actor or designer," he said. This realization is crucial in a community where access to such opportunities is often limited.

Roy is hopeful for the continued partnership with Situation Project and the expansion of arts programs. "Next year, we aim to do more Broadway shows and engage in a community service project with the kids," he said. These initiatives are not merely about providing entertainment but about fostering a sense of community and social responsibility among students.

A Situation Project student at a career workshop in 2023

Honoring the Impact of Teachers and Arts Education

The collective efforts of NYC Public School teachers and supplemental arts education programs have made a profound impact on students' lives. As we celebrate the end of another school year, it is essential to acknowledge the vital role these educators and programs play in shaping a brighter, more inclusive future for our children. Through the arts, students learn to think critically, express themselves creatively, and dream beyond the confines of their circumstances.

Inspired was created by Situation Project 501(c)3.

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