What really constitutes an educational environment? Actually, since children and youth are constantly learning, everything that goes on around them is an educational environment — adults and peers are their teachers, for better or worse. Unfortunately today’s environment contains many negatives, but perhaps in time we’ll realize the meaning of what has almost become a trite saying these days: it takes a whole village (community) to raise a child. Really understanding what that means, we’ll understand that educating a child means building a community that allows them to think individually and to have certain feelings — not only allows it, but encourages students to be who they are.

Our experience has proven that the creative arts can contribute effectively here, providing an opportunity that is enriching for students who aren’t yet at risk and a critical intervention for many who are. An educational environment that fully utilizes the various dimensions of the arts will naturally fulfill many of the students’ educational needs. Substantially integrating a strengths-based arts mentoring methodology into education would also fill teachers’ needs by stimulating them, adding opportunity to the ongoing process of self-discovery that would directly benefit their students. Teachers would be modeling something valuable for the students, enhancing and building on an environment that would have more life in it, giving that environment more meaning.

Excerpt from Venturing Together: Empowering Students to Succeed, by Bill Rossi