Celebrating Literacy at South Shore Fine Arts Academy
SCHOOLS | May 9, 2022
Celebrating Literacy at South Shore Fine Arts Academy

Principal Vicki Brown says that while her students at South Shore Fine Arts Academy are encouraged to develop an interest in reading at school, they don’t always have access to culturally relevant books at home. That’s why she believes it is vital to provide students with resources to build their own personal libraries. 

“Sometimes, that’s really how my students travel—through a book,” she said. “It’s important that they have books that they can write their names and take notes in or mark their favorite pages.” 

In conjunction with National Poetry Month, Principal Brown and three of her fellow principals who are all members of the Chicago Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority organized literacy-focused community service events at each of their four schools: South Shore, Aldridge, Beethoven, and Crown.

More than 6,500 books were donated across the four schools, and each school also organized read-alouds with chapter members. At South Shore, Principal Brown’s youngest learners had a great time listening to Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan. 

The book drive and read-alouds connect to our goal of showing students that reading doesn’t always have to be connected to being in school. You can also read for enjoyment,” said Principal Brown. “We want to make sure that reading is embedded in everything we do, especially the arts since we’re an arts-focused school.”

Following the read-alouds, the intersection between reading and the arts was emphasized during South Shore’s first-ever poetry slam, its first in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Younger students danced while reciting classics such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Humpty Dumpty,” and older students shared poems they had written. 

Fifth-grade student Xavian shared his poem, “A Day Outside”: 

I look up
Then I look down

I spot the difference between the sky and the ground
The sky is blue and the ground is concrete
I look around the neighborhood to see people walking up and down the street
People are walking their babies to the park while others are making wall art
I walk around and find something new
Then I go home to write about all the fun things I do 

“Since this was our first poetry slam, we were excited and nervous at the same time,” said Principal Brown. “We wanted our students to be able to express themselves through language and have the confidence to know that their words matter, their voice counts, and they can be heard.”

All of the pieces of this year’s celebration of literacy were a huge success, and Principal Brown is already thinking toward the future, both in terms of making the poetry slam an annual event and her goals for her school overall. 

“I want my school community—every child, every teacher, every parent—to understand that they matter,” said Principal Brown. “Whether it is through literature, community partnerships, or our arts program, I want student voice to be heard and everyone to know that the skills they bring to the table will make a difference in the lives of our kids.”

You can watch the entire poetry slam below.