Returning to the Classroom in the Garden

When I finished my graduate studies at Penn, I started looking for opportunities in education since I wanted to be back in the classroom as soon as possible. Luckily for me, I learned about a fellowship opportunity at Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture though a professor at Penn GSE and I decided to apply because I could put in practice what I learned in graduate school.

Beginning Drumming

Photo by Emily Ganser

After being interviewed by the program director, I was offered a fellowship position and I immediately got involved in one of their projects: the Arab Arts After-School Program. The After-School Program is implemented at the John Moffet School, an elementary school in North Philadelphia, where students learn about the Arab world through music, songs and arts.

The program is composed of a program coordinator, three teaching artists, and two teaching assistants. All of them work really hard at the Arab Arts After-School Program and this is reflected in students’ artistic development. As a behavioral assessment fellow, I work across the different classes of the After-School Program.

When I joined the program, I had a conversation with Max, our program coordinator, to talk about the tasks that I would like to conduct as a fellow. One of my ideas is mini-workshops for students about essential topics for their educational development, such as discussing stereotypes. I think it’s an important topic since many of the kids are first generation students and the school is located in a multicultural neighborhood.

Art 3

Photo by Emily Ganser

Moreover, I expressed my desire of conducting a qualitative research study about how the program has a positive impact on students’ behavior. For this reason, I started making observations since day one. As part of this task, I also plan to conduct interviews with teachers, students and their parents. However, I might leave this part as one of the final procedures since I don’t want the students to see me as an outsider.

Three months have passed since I joined Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture. Now, the students already recognize me as an active member of the After-School Program and I feel I can continue with my tasks.

During the first two weeks, the students were a little bit distant with me but after the Moffet Art Show and Musical Demonstration, everything has changed. I have to say – nothing worth doing comes easy.


– Edgar Felix, Moffet Arab Arts Behavorial Assessment Fellow


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