Our Successes

Successes-Quote0“[Project VOICE] recently spent five full school days at Punahou School as the keynote speakers for our annual “Spirit and Service Week.” [Project VOICE] spoke at every chapel, interacting over the course of the week with all 3800 students ranging from Kindergarten through Grade 12. They also gave an afternoon presentation for teachers, an evening presentation for the general public, and a series of workshops in individual classes. When we invited Project VOICE to our school, we knew they were terrific spoken word artists. We knew they could stir an audience. What we didn’t know, going into the visit, was whether they would be effective at interacting with students, at answering questions from teachers and parents, at adapting themselves to the culture of our school, and at responding flexibly to situations as they arose. In short, would they fit in and have a positive impact? The answer to those questions turned out to be a resounding yes. [They have] succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. They are complete professionals. They listen well, they read the school and the students well, they’re very good with questions and answers, and they are extremely effective in the classroom. I sat in on workshops they ran for elementary students, for middle school students, and for high school students. The workshops were not one-size-fits-all. They adapted their presentations and their presentational style to the kids in the room. Their mission is to help students think about voice and language, and to help students begin to understand how who you are connects to the words you use and the ways in which you use them. And the students respond: the atmosphere in the room is electric.

(It would be hard to overestimate the enthusiasm that [Project VOICE] generated. Our public event, one evening toward the end of the week they spent with us, was packed, a standing-room only event populated mostly by students who had already seen [the poets] during the day and then dragged their parents back with them in the evening so that they could see them too. And many students hung around for more than an hour after the event just to get a chance to exchange a few words with them.)

We’ve all heard a lot in the last few years, from people like Sir Ken Robinson, about how we shouldn’t be trying to prepare students to take jobs that already exist (but may not exist by the time they graduate), but to create jobs that arise from what they care about and what they can do well, and that will create value in the lives of the people around them. [The Project VOICE poets] are indeed extraordinarily talented performers and gifted educators. But what recommends them most strongly is something even more valuable than that. They are the kinds of young people that we as educators would most like our students to become: thoughtful, talented, passionate, engaged, dedicated, joyful, appreciative. They have a passion, and they have made the sharing of that passion their life’s work. I would argue that it is crucially important for the students in our schools from time to time to be given the gift of hope, of possibility: a vision of a kind of life as an adult that would be exhilarating and transformative and fun. [Project VOICE poets] embody that vision. Beyond what they might have to say to about poetry itself—which is inspirational in itself—they offer the young people they work with a glimpse of what it might be like to create a life of one’s own. To borrow Gandhi’s formulation, they are the change we would like to see in the world. I love these guys, and I think you will too.”
-Bruce Schauble, Director of Instruction at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI


Successes-Quote1“Project VOICE is the best thing that has happened, school-wide, on our campus this year. The result of their work was nothing short of eternal gratitude from both students and staff. The poetry that they write is contemporary and poignant: they infuse laughter and sorrow with an astute social-political awareness. Their ability to connect with the students of our high school is nearly un-paralleled. [Project VOICE poets] bring a unique quality of youth coupled with experience beyond their years. They are able to develop a rapport with students in a few minutes, and have the experience to work with a diverse range of students. Discovering Project VOICE has been an absolute treasure. We have had nothing but positive feedback from our students and staff and look forward to bringing them back in the future. Our students and staff will be changed because of them; I wish we could keep them.”
-Ruben Zamora, Teacher at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, CA


“Fresh and Refreshing! [Project VOICE] entered our school as virtual strangers and after spending a day and a half with us, they left as beloved members of our community. They offered entertainment and education. They were quickly able to get a feel for our school, its mission, and it members, and they custom-tailored their performances and workshops to relevantly appeal to 3 distinct audiences: middle school students, teachers, and parents – no easy feat. They were high–energy and approachable. They inspired us to consider the ways that our voices are empowered and/or silenced and left us with tools and skills to keep this exploration alive beyond their visit.”
-Kevin Jacobson, Middle School Principal at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, NY


“From the moment the lights dimmed and [Project VOICE] took the stage, the silence and riveted attention paid by our students was palpable. Performing four assemblies in two days packed with a total of 2,000 students from ninth through twelfth grade, [Project VOICE] gave us a grand introduction to the world of Spoken Word. I was awe struck by how well they were received by students, impressed with their professionalism as performers, and completely caught up in their tremendous capacity for compassionate, articulate and emotionally evocative writing. Afterwards students literally thanked their teachers for bringing them to the assemblies. One teacher wrote: ‘I had heard such enthusiastic comments from some of my best students that I made my French 3 Honors class go spontaneously in spite of all the time pressures. We were all greatly inspired.’ One administrator (previously our drama teacher) commented: ‘Kudos!! That assembly was the most inspirational assembly we’ve had in my history with Palisades Charter High School.’ We look forward to welcoming Project VOICE back to our high school on a regular basis. There is no greater gift to your school than a performance and workshop from Project VOICE!”
-Bella McGowan, School Psychologist at Palisades Charter High School, Pacific Palisades, CA


“I absolutely adore [the Project VOICE poets], and my students love them even more. Our two-year collaboration… has included performances, in-class workshops, and a weekly after-school Spoken Word club. The resulting writing, community, and performances are inspiring——especially in an urban environment. Our students are confident and comfortable performing their poetry in the middle of crowded city streets and in packed poetry venues, and they are equally confident listening, responding to, and being critical of poetry in general. I attribute that to intelligence and professionalism that [Project VOICE] models in the classroom paired with the way they so easily relate to and inspire students. We are incredibly fortunate to have them in our school. They turn teenagers into poets, and that is a beautiful thing.”
-Megan Thoma, Teacher at Hope High School in Providence, RI



“It was a fantastic experience for our Stamford students to have the privilege of watching Project VOICE make poetry come alive. During their performance, every student, teacher and parent was captivated, filled with joy and deeply moved. From Kindergarten 2 to Grade 8, [Project VOICE] opened our students’ eyes to the world of spoken word poetry and helped us redefine the way we understand and perceive poetry. Students left feeling inspired and with a burning desire to engage with poetry writing of their own. Congratulations and thank you for continuing to inject sensitivity and honesty into the world, one word at a time!’
-Raquel Aced-Rubio, PYP Coordinator at the Stamford American International School in Singapore