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Back 2 School

By Candace Feldman on September 27, 2012

I love the energetic buzz in late August and early September. The excitement and scramble for “Back to School”. You can’t miss it either. Target has a big sale on supplies and back packs (if you haven’t seen their retro commercials pairing new styles with classic 80’s hits…its awesome!), Cookies on Fulton Mall changes their display windows to feature all the different school uniforms and young people are getting their hair cut and trimmed for their first day. For me, this is the time of year when I start thinking about all the young minds I have the pleasure of interacting with this year.  And this is one of many reasons why I love my job.

Every year I have been at 651, my interactions with the students continue to grow. Recently I had the privilege of managing the New Media & Arts Fellowship, a pilot program in partnership with BOMB Magazine that offered 13 students an opportunity to learn new media technology, develop communication and writing skills, and engage with artists from our 2012 season. It was the most interaction I’ve had with students since working here. Every Wednesday and Thursday, from January to June, the office was illuminated with bright faces, big smiles and exciting chatter.

But my favorite part was when a student would come down stairs and say “Ms. Candace! Come and see what I did!” And I would go back upstairs with them, sit down and connect with their art, words, and ideas…I was invited to connect with them.

I believe that one of the best gifts you can give a friend, relative, partner, student, colleague…whomever, is a little time.  I happily gave a few minutes to them because someone did the same kindness for me. It is that little extra moment when action speaks louder than words. It is a moment shared. The very presence of your attention is transformed into encouragement and support. And the beautiful part is that it does not cost a dime.

I remember the first day of second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Mitchell, asked the students to take turns in introducing yourself. We had to say our names, something fun we did in the summer and something special about ourselves. I said, “Hi. My name is Candace Lynn Feldman. I went to Africa to see my grandmother. And I’m gonna change the world.” And the really cool part came next. Michael Fulmer, who sat next to me, leaned over and said, “That’s cool. I’m gonna change the world too.”

We all start somewhere. The dream’s seed is planted at some moment in our lives and it is the people around us that can nurture it or choke it. I encourage whoever reads this to choose to nurture. All it takes is a little bit of time, a little bit of listening, and a little bit of positive pushing.

I leave you with a text I received a few weeks ago from one of the New Media & Arts fellows:

Hellooo mentor. This is Kashema*. I miss you so much. Just wanted to inform you that I moved down to college on Sunday & so far its going great. I begin class on Thursday. You know I will make you proud & when I come back to Brooklyn I’m coming to see you. Love you.

*Kashema Harvery is a graduate of Paul Robeson High School and currently attending Virginia State University, studying Journalism and Communications.






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