I am Anne Rhodes. I live in Freeville NY. This is my first blog experience.
I have worn many hats over the years. Not quite as many as Bartholomew Cubbins, but enough. Or maybe not quite enough: I’m not done yet.
Work in the Arts
Working as a theater artist, I write and perform in original theater productions. In 1975 I started a performing theater troupe in Ithaca, with Barbara Anger, called Mischief Mime Co. For about ten years we created and performed original theater pieces all across the country, pieces which were political, personal, and funny, about power, bodies, relationships, fears, and whatever else was going on. We were one of the first feminist theater groups in the ‘70’s. I have also worked for the past 30 years in schools across New York State, first performing, and later developing arts integration programs with Teachers.
There were several Aesthetic Education Institutes across New York State, and I think I have worked with them all. These are educational organizations modeled on Lincoln Center Institute, and focused on students and Teachers experiencing a work of art deeply. I was a Teaching Artist and trainer of Teachers and Teaching Artists for many years with the Southern Tier Institute in Binghamton, and the Aesthetic Education Institute in Syracuse.
More recently I have been supporting arts in education partnerships between cultural organizations and schools across New York State, through the Empire State Partnerships program (now defunct – don’t get me started), bringing visual artists, musicians, dancers and theater artists into classrooms to integrate the arts with curriculum and encourage more critical and creative thinking in young people. With others at Empire State Partnerships, I founded the Regional Leadership Network for people working in arts integration across New York State, so that people could provide professional development for each other and share best practices.
I also worked for many years with Roger Dell at the Fitchburg Art Museum in Massachusetts, developing a Museum Learning school, in which the arts could be at the center of curricular work. That school was also a Lincoln Center Focus School.
It has been my delight to work with Teaching Artists and classroom Teachers in many upstate communities, as well as in the five boroughs, in developing professional, high quality work to support student learning in New York’s schools. My earliest training in Teaching Artistry was with Eric Booth, and I remain grateful for his mentoring and continued support.
My work with VSAarts has taken me across the country, working with arts in education communities in Detroit, Chicago, Austin Texas, and Atlanta to develop classroom practices integrating the arts with curriculum in ways that are inclusive of students with disabilities.
I have worked with many diverse cultural organizations, across the state, including Just Buffalo Literary Center and CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, Capitol Rep Theater and Arts Center for the Capitol Region in Albany, Vanaver Caravan, Open Eye Theater, and Creative Leaps in the Mid-Hudson area, Memorial Art Museum in Rochester, East End Arts Council on Long Island, and many organizations in New York City, including The Guggenheim Museum, National Dance Institute, American Symphony Orchestra, Teachers and Writers, Studio Museum of Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Center, and El Museo del Barrio, among many others. In the course of this work there has been so much learning and so much joy, as we all work together to think well about young people and how they learn, and what they need to know, understand, and be able to do in order to become active citizens and creative human beings.
There were many years spent doing anti-racism work in Ithaca – at Cornell, Ithaca College, and in the community – as well as work on classism, sexism, homophobia, anti-semitism, ageism, and able-ism. There is a strong and smart group of facilitators and trainers in Tompkins County who have worked together over the years to improve our community, and I am honored to have contributed and learned among them. We began the Human Relations Training Program at Cornell, and designed and led the Connections Series for many years. We supported the Site Based Councils in the schools and did much anti-bias work with faculty, staff, and administration. I owe a particular debt to Kirby Edmonds who has been a mentor and colleague for many years.
I have worked with Teachers in the Ithaca City School District on eliminating racist behaviors and understanding what it means to be white. My work with the Natural Resources Dept, The Computer Science Dept., the Vet School, and other departments at Cornell has been especially gratifying. A founder of Homophobia Educators Network, and White People Working Against Racism, I am currently involved in planning for a group of white allies connected to the Talking Circles in Ithaca.
Work in the Schools
Working with Teachers and young people in the schools has been a special focus for me since my first daughter entered Central Elementary School (now BJM) in 1976. In the beginning most of my work was on racism in the schools, but over the years I have also led many workshops for Teachers on building a community of respect in the classroom, effective interventions to biased behavior, creating a climate of inquiry in the classroom, and maintaining a bias-free classroom.
More recently I have been leading professional development on setting learning goals and backwards planning, effective assessment of student learning, Teacher supervision and self- and peer-evaluation, cross-grade consistency in curriculum, cultural competency, and other topics. I have also been writing curriculum in arts integration, relationship to the natural world and other sustainability issues, and anti-bias issues.
An early member of Sustainable Tompkins, I started Dryden Solutions in February ’09 to bring together residents in the Town of Dryden to talk about issues related to sustainability. In 2010 I received a Civic Leaders Fellowship from Cornell to support my work in Dryden Solutions, making it more effective.
This year I have been working in a volunteer capacity with the Energy Team at Cornell Cooperative Extension, as their Town of Dryden Community Representative to facilitate more people completing energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. Thanks to its start in Dryden Solutions, Dryden now has a Community Garden and we are helping more people learn to grow their own food, and providing food to Food Banks. The Dryden Preservation Corps, another initiative started through Dryden Solutions, is a loose network of people teaching and learning about canning and preserving food. Dryden Solutions is also working on facilitating artists to work on strengthening community, and on encouraging renewable energy in the Town, among other issues.
My ability to think and to function well, so far as I do, I credit to three things: First, my amazing parents, Josie and Dusty, who taught me the importance of love before everything, taught me to think critically, remember what’s important (the “big picture”), and take nothing on face value. Second, I credit my experience of being a hippie, and participating in the Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out revolution of the sixties, which taught me that norms are not normal, the deep value of self-reflection before action, and helped me realize my molecular place in the Universe. I never dropped back in. And third, I credit my dreams, which have inspired and guided me my whole life, giving me invaluable insight into the nature of reality, the needed course of action, and deep lessons of life.
The fourth huge influence on making me who I am is my four children, Satya, Taylor, Reuben, and Morgan. Four times I have faced a new life and its challenges. Four times I have been taught, about myself, about each new being, about how society tries to shape children, and how to resist that shaping. I love them all deeply, and continue to learn from each of them.
And of course, there is that small group of serial monogamous relationships, through the friction of which I learned to confront myself, challenge myself to grow, and meet my limitations. Gratitude seems appropriate, although I don’t always feel it.