Samuel's Story

Samuel wasn’t much for school.

He didn’t really think it was for him, and most subjects just didn’t interest him. A few months in and Eighth Grade hadn’t changed his mind.

But today, things looked a little different. COMPAS Teaching Artist Frank Sentwali was there to teach a residency. Frank told the students he was there to help students “write and perform spoken word poetry”. What did that even mean?

Samuel pretended to not pay attention, but he was still listening. Frank explained his connection to local hip-hop legends, some of whom Samuel recognized. Then he set up his first assignments.


First, you write a spoken word poem. But then, you practice performing it.

Day after day, Frank came in and set up different ways to practice. Students worked in duos, then performed in front of the class. They talked about presence when presenting -- and how small gestures and body language can send a powerful message. They practiced, and practiced, and practiced.

Almost without realizing it, Samuel started to look forward to going to class.

He came to class prepared with questions for his teacher -- how could he be sure that people understood what he was trying to say? Why did certain words mean one thing in one sentence, and another in a different one?

At the end of the residency, Samuel performed his poem in front of the entire school. Every word was rehearsed perfectly, every movement calculated for maximum effect. He beamed as he exited the stage.

Who knew school could be so fun?

Will you join us and help people like Samuel experience the power of creativity?

This is what your gift can do:

My students learned their voices are important and the messages we share have the opportunity to inspire others.
— Gretchen R. Teacher, Frank Sentwali Teaching Artist Residency
  • $25 helps reach one student with the power of creativity

  • $50 could help a COMPAS Teaching Artist travel to greater Minnesota -- reaching people who would otherwise lack the opportunity to learn from a professional artist

  • $100 helps provide creative education for six Minnesota students

  • $200 helps cover the costs of a residency at a Minnesota school like Samuel’s (Did you know that gifts like yours cover more than half of the costs of most COMPAS school residencies?)

With your gift, you are giving deserving people from all walks of life the opportunity to realize their full potential.

Thank you in advance for your gift. It really makes all the difference!

Vivian's Story... and how you can help!

Vivian's Story... and how you can help!

Vivian never thought she’d have the chance to be an artist.

She’d already spent her whole life creating things -- building a happy home life for her children, and creating many special memories for her grandchildren.

But now, experiencing memory loss and living full-time in a residence for older adults, it seemed like her creative days were over. That is, until COMPAS Teaching Artist Zoë Bird arrived…

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Finding Your Voice with Amy Hallberg

Finding Your Voice with Amy Hallberg

“Let’s get messy… life isn’t scripted. Feed into your work and see what happens.” A mantra most artists can live by, for Amy Hallberg this was the jumping off point for her adventures as a writer almost 31 years ago while she was working with a COMPAS Teaching Artist at Prior Lake High School. Read all about how this experience not only shaped her career, but her life as well.

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