Changing The Odds Pathway to Literacy for Kids
2020 – 2025
The Changing the Odds (CTO) Pathway to Literacy for Kids program is a five-year initiative launched by Windsor Endowment for the Arts (WEA) in partnership with ARTS CAN TEACH and the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB)
This vital initiative is committed to raising FUNDS and AWARENESS to support young English language learners in Windsor’s core, West Windsor, and Leamington, to improve the odds that these children will succeed in school and life.
The CTO program brings trained, experienced Dance and Drama Artist Educators from ARTS CAN TEACH to deliver arts-based English language learning (ELL) to Kindergarten classes throughout the school year at two schools in Windsor-Essex.
The ELL program was inspired by a 7-year research project at the University of Southern California that demonstrated SIGNIFICANT GAINS in language learning, speaking and confidence in Kindergarten – Grade 2 classes led by Drama and Movement artists.
2020 – 2021
The pilot year of the CTO Pathway to Literacy for Kids program took place at F.W. Begley Public School in downtown Windsor, and Queen Elizabeth Public School in Leamington for a few months before it abruptly ended when the schools pivoted to at-home learning in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to health safety measures in place at the time, the artist educators had to be “Zoomed” into the classrooms to team-teach an arts-based learning activity from their home studio spaces. The kids, teachers, and artists made it work!
The CTO program also includes Drama and Movement Professional Development workshops for participating Kindergarten teachers and teachers from other Windsor-Essex schools with high numbers of young English language learners.
Matthew Romain, ARTS CAN TEACH artist educator and acclaimed puppeteer, conducted a Professional Development workshop for teachers at the GECDSB, sharing his Kindergarten lesson plan exploring the “Language of Feelings Through Puppetry” where he led participants through a step-by-step process of creating their own expressive rod puppets!
2021 – 2022
The first full year of the CTO Pathway to Literacy for Kids program took place at F.W. Begley Public School in downtown Windsor, and Queen Elizabeth Public School in Leamington where the artist-educators visited the Kindergarten classes once or twice a week throughout the school year.
CTO program provides employment opportunities for trained, experienced Dance and Drama Artist Educators from ARTS CAN TEACH to deliver arts-based English language learning (ELL) to Kindergarten classes throughout the school year.
The ARTS CAN TEACH Artist Team includes Ainslee Winter (Dance, Visual Arts), Linda Lord (Drama), and Matthew Romain (Puppetry).
Thanks to the generous support of donors, the CTO program delivered two arts-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) lessons to students in Grade 2 to Grade 4 at two schools in Windsor-Essex. Teachers choose their STEM topic and the art form (Visual Arts, Dance, Puppetry or Drama) from ARTS CAN TEACH.
In the STEM program, Artist Educators from ARTS CAN TEACH in collaboration with the classroom teachers classes provided 4 weeks of high-calibre arts-based learning support for core school subjects like science and mathematics to support design thinking, problem-solving, inquiry, collaboration, and more!
Below is a note from a grateful mother to Artist-Educator Ainslee Winter who was paired with the Grade 2 teacher to present the STEM lesson online when the kids were learning at home during the quarantine:
“I want to thank you for coming to [my daughter’s] class it’s all she talks about. She is struggling with online learning and as a parent to see her excited about something comforts me in ways I can’t even begin to express gratitude. [She] often comes and gets us to show off what she doing and goes on to tell her grandparents about it. Thank you to you and Ms. D for making my sad little girl have something to smile about during a hard period of her life.”
-Mom of Grade 2 Learner