We ushered in the new year with Mentorship Month! A whole month dedicated to mentors and the amazing (and necessary) work they do. Our Teaching Artists provide an incredible amount of mentoring for the students and participants they work with; like COMPAS' Theater Teaching Artist Saymokda Vongsay. She gave us some insight on her residency at Rochester STEM Academy, her many influences (which includes zombies), and some crucial advice for aspiring writers.
This residency is focusing on poetry. "The mentoring program is unique because its through video conferencing," says Saymokda. "We had our third session this week and still getting to know one another. I'm learning about my mentees' interests (Korean dramas! Fencing!) and they are learning about mine (zombies! refugee stories) and working to find a common "language" besides poetry."
Students also have interest in the business side of being an artist such as negotiating fees for performing and workshop facilitations, prospect research (publication, grants, gigs), career planning, development of technical writing skills, etc.
As for the advice she wants new or emerging writers to take into consideration... "GET YOURSELF A MENTOR! It cannot be a forced mentorship. It has to be mutual and genuine. Mentors can help bridge the amount of time, energy, and labor it would take to grow into your full potential. They have the experience, life lessons, stories about mistakes, resources, tools, connections, and most importantly, investment in your growth."
"Then, pay it forward. Mentor others."
A Conversation with bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson...
Earlier in January, we spoke with acclaimed author MaryJanice Davidson, and she offered to write a post about her goals for the New Year. Read all about how her passion for the arts is just as prominent, if not more, than her passion for hot chocolate. And trust us, she loves the warm beverage like a writer loves pen and paper!
Reading, Writing... and Clowning?
First and second graders at Verndale Elementary in Verndale, Minnesota got a big surprise when they came into their classroom — a real, live, clown was there standing at the front of the room!
Benjamin helped students develop the confidence to speak up in class through a simple question: "Tell me a joke!" As he explained, “First and Second graders have the BEST jokes.”
Click here for more clowning shenanigans.