March was another month of exciting new adventures! I love this new direction in my career and I appreciate that so many of you are willing to share in this vision. You will find more detail about where I was in March below but it includes residencies at CSULB’s Carpenter Center (CA) and the Dr. Philips Performing Arts Center (FL) and Magic Camp with the Arts Partnership (OH).
I started April working at the Dr. Philips Performing Arts Center(FL) with celebrations of World Autism Day and a sensory-friendly and public performance in the Pugh Family Theatre. This month I’ll also be working with Rob Rosano at the Clay Center (WV) with a sensory-friendly performance and workshop…and continue with Dianna Winstead at the Center for Rural Development (KY) with a full day of outreach activities, a sensory-friendly performance, and a public show. I’m also presenting research at the Council for Exceptional Children international conference in St. Louis. More on all of these next month!
MARCH IN REVIEW
THE ARTS PARTNERSHIP – FINDLAY, OH: I’ve worked with the Arts Partnership several times in the past but this was a completely different adventure! I spent a week working with Craig VanRenterghem, the Education Director – a fun and busy guy! We started Monday with an after-school Magic Campprogram that culminated on Friday evening with a public performance for friends and family members.
During the week, I also spent two days working in the Center for Autism & Dyslexia with students using the arts as an approach to learning and improving academic and functional skills.
Craig shared these comments:
Magician Kevin Spencer presented his Hocus Focus program to area schools in our community working with special needs classrooms. These students were amazed by his magic tricks and then tried their hand at performing a couple of tricks themselves! Kevin also led an after school magic camp for students in grades 2-8. After talking to the participants after the camp, one of the students had the following to say about their experience:
“Definitely, I had a wonderful time—it was awesome. It was a lot of fun and a lot of new tricks were learned. Kevin Spencer was amazing. He had a great personality and made camp very enjoyable. Would attend again if given the opportunity.”
THE CARPENTER CENTER – LONG BEACH, CA: I just love working with Michele Roberge at the Carpenter Center! I’ve had the privilege of appearing on her stage when we were touring with the big illusion production but this time, she worked closely with several academic departments at California State University and put together an outstanding residency that was incredibly diverse.
During our time together, Michele arranged 16 Hocus Focus sessions all over the CSULB campus – from the College of Education, to Physical Therapy in Kinesiology, to Theatre Arts, to Family and Child Development. We visited four different classrooms at Carver Elementary School where CSULB student teachers work to share the Hocus Focus program directly with youngsters and, the frosting on the cake, we cheered up some pediatric patients at Miller Children’s Hospital. It was an amazing week!
Michele also received some emails from faculty and from students who participated in the presentations. I wanted to share some of those with you.
It is often tough for presenters to be taken seriously among faculty (as odd as that sounds, it’s true!). I had to persuade them into allowing us into their classrooms. Now, they are begging to have the next program. Thank you! You have proven to all these CSULB faculty members how the arts can impact their curriculum and their students.
Every faculty member, administrator, donor and student you met was overwhelmingly grateful and excited to learn about your Hocus Focus work. I think you changed more than a few lives last week. All the faculty members we met have asked to have you back, for a longer time!
Kevin, I knew they would benefit from your work, but I sure underestimated how much love you would spread around this campus.
Noel Spina, PTm DPT, PCS, C/NDT is a lecturer in the Physical Therapy program:
What a stellar morning! Kevin was the perfect bridge to the application of meaningful, life-based interventions. I am already in planning stages for his next visit!
Lydia Gross is a professor in the College of Education. She sent this email to Michele:
Kevin Spencer’s presentation fit perfectly with our studies and truly helped my students both personally and professionally! I wanted to share with you an email that I received tonight from one of my students. This reflects the feelings of a majority of my students today regarding Kevin’s presentation. Thank you for bringing such a wonderful opportunity to our campus!
A student in Ms. Gross’s class wrote:
I am a student in your M/W 9:30am class. I just wanted to express how I felt about today’s presentation. In my four years of college I have never enjoyed a presentation this much. I am a Sociology major with a minor in child development. I know Kevin Spencer talked about kids with disabilities and although he focused on Autism, I was really happy to know there are ways of helping kids with disabilities learn in a more creative way and to make them feel like they aren’t any different. My little brother has Down Syndrome and is the most amazing child I have met and the presentation really hit home for me. So just wanted to say thank you for the guest speaker and for loving what you do.