LYNN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The Lynn Public Schools is currently the fifth largest in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and serves ~16,000 students across the district’s 26 schools. According to 2018-19 data from the Massachusetts Department of Education, the student population here is largely of color, bilingual, and economically disadvantaged, with the district’s English learners representing over 55 different countries and more than 30 different languages. According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the 2014 student enrollment in Lynn was 14,378. The enrollment at the close of the 2018-19 school year was 16,615, marking a 15% increase over five years. Among all students, the fastest growing subgroup is that of English Learners, who currently account for 25% of the student body in 2018-19. English Learners accounted for 17.8% of the student body in 2014.
The City of Lynn has always welcomed immigrant populations. The Lynn Public Schools (LPS) Entry Report (2018-2019) notes the shift in student demographics over the past decade and shows larger numbers of students for whom English is not their first language, as well as an increasing number of students who have experienced trauma – “perhaps reflecting the shifting socioeconomic diversity among students.” Given that, the district has incorporated a stronger focus on meeting the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) needs of students, as well as academic needs, including a renewed focus on partnerships with outside organizations to help meet the needs of students and deliver impactful educational programs and experiences. This project merges the expertise and mission of Beyond Walls with the curriculum design expertise and educational mission of LPS to bring new and innovative art-based learning opportunities to students in the Lynn Public Schools.
Beginning in FY21 (July 1, 2020) Beyond Walls will partner with the Lynn Public Schools to pilot a scalable arts-based middle-school program resulting in cross-curricular lesson and templates that promote critical thinking and creativity, and also address diversity and inclusion, the immigrant experience, community development, social-emotional learning (SEL), and arts education, and provide opportunities for hands-on art experiences for the city’s underserved youth. Inspired by successful community-based arts education approaches from across the country (Artful Thinking/Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Boston APP/lab, Art in Public Places, Figment 2019; FLY Creativity Lab, Ypsilanti, Michigan) as well as Beyond Walls’ own experience offering arts programming for youth, we will use Street Art installed over the past three years in downtown Lynn as the foundation for an innovative, arts-based, cross-curricular educational experience designed to more deeply engage students, providing them with real-world opportunities to connect art with history, identity, social justice, and community.