Weaving in meaningful experiential learning opportunities for students takes on many different forms at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS).
This week, a school first.
It threads skill development with hands-on practice and service.
The initiative involves the entire Grade 7 and 8 class --- more than 200 boys (13 and 14 years old) --- and about 30 machines. Sewing machines.
“My goal is to provide real-life sewing skills to our boys so they can sew a button, repair a torn seam, maybe even hem a pair of jeans,” says Dr. Robert Fantilli, ’94, math teacher at SMCS who learned about this opportunity and organized its debut at the school.
“The boys will engage with the team from Denise Wild's Sewing Studio for an hour,” says Dr. Fantilli. The activity will be “led by former pro athletes and others who have learned to deal with adversity on and off a field, arena, stage, etc., while sharing their testimonies and advice on resilience and focus,” he says.
PATTERN TO SUCCESS
“Not only are we introducing a creative life skill to students, we’re using sewing as a tool to help motivate, inspire, build confidence, and break stereotypes,” says Roland Acheampong, co-founder of Denise Wild’s Sewing Studio, and one of six male instructors who will be working with our students. “We want to challenge the way young men look at things around them (including skills like sewing), and we want to encourage boys to confidently follow their own path. Sewing helps build confidence and mindfulness, and it also helps develop a growth mindset. Our goal is to inspire kids and break stereotypes while introducing them to something new,” he says.
Roland overcame his own challenges as a young man, rising from an inner-city upbringing to achieve corporate success. He was placed in a special education class in elementary school before being singled out by a mentor in Grade 7 who helped lift him up and dispel the labels that had been placed on him, he says.
“We love bringing to schools a diverse crew of instructors who are successful in their own ways. We share our stories in order to mentor and inspire kids and to show them that they can accomplish anything.”
The students will also produce a finished product with a purpose.
“They will create something (not sure what yet) and then donate this item to charity,” says Dr. Fantilli.
The broader goal is yet to come, he says. “We are hoping to work with this organization and/or other community partners to develop a co-curricular programme beginning next year that can provide time for our boys to engage in these types of activities during the lunch hour or after school.”
The Sewing Studio session takes place on Thursday March 7, 2019.