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!