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MSLCE Student Paige Lester Begins Internship at Turnaround Arts

By Paige Lester

Greetings from our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.! I am thrilled to be spending my summer here interning with Turnaround Arts, a program of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

At its core, Turnaround Arts focuses on school reform; they are currently in partnership with approximately 70 public schools across the country that are designated priority status (among the lowest performing 5% in that state). In those schools, they work with local coordinators, principals, teachers, teaching artists, and celebrity artists to integrate arts of all kinds into the curriculum, aiming to “turnaround” not only the school, but the entire community.

So, where do I fit into all of this?

I am a part of an intern cohort at The Kennedy Center of around 30 students, a mix of undergraduates and graduate students from all over the country. We participate in weekly classes, professional development workshops, and cultural immersion activities around Washington, D.C. Within Turnaround Arts, I have several assignments. The first relates to our Summer Leadership Retreat, during which we bring our principals, teachers, and teaching artists from all over the country together for a week of peer-to-peer learning and training. Working on high-profile event planning and preparation, execution, and evaluation, my duties range from preparing 400+ participant name badges and individualized materials, creating and distributing daily session evaluation forms, and providing customer service to problem solve throughout the retreat. When we return, I will be collecting, analyzing and interpreting the data we collected to compile into a comprehensive report that the team will use moving forward as a document to be shared with partners, investors, supporters, etc. Finally, I will be providing administrative support by way of updating, maintaining, and organizing resources for the program website.

I am certain that the arts education that I received throughout my life has shaped me into the individual that I am today. It is an honor to be working with an organization that provides arts education to so many students who would otherwise not be able to engage. I am certain that these are the people shaping the future of arts education, and I cannot wait to learn as much as I can from them.

This summer I am experiencing huge changes in terms of both place and pace. Even though I am out of my comfort zone, I know that this summer will be a time of learning, growth, and inspiration. I cannot wait to take full advantage of everything that Turnaround Arts, The Kennedy Center, and Washington, D.C. have to offer.