Children’s Park at Jenks School

Made my first visit to the Jenks School in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, on Friday, preparing to set the poetry of Ryan Eckes for The Crossing and the Jenks 4th- and 5th-Grade choirs. I didn’t have to do a thing—not this time, anyway!

I met Ryan there, Steven Gearhart, the Crossing’s operations manager, a member of Jenks Parents who really made this all happen, and music teacher Steve Kell. As is always the case when I see teachers working with students, I am blown away by the energy, talent, and commitment.

Ryan was excellent with the students, too. He read his poem at the assembly, then many of the students read the ones they had written under Ryan’s mentorship the past few weeks. The emotion and distinct imagery in their poems was often riveting. I had already gotten a preview of Ryan’s poem when we met at the South Philly Taproom last week, and I can’t wait to start working on this: it is a wonderful poem. Jenks and The Crossing will perform it next year.

In the music room, there be boomwhackers. This is my first of two pieces for the Crossing this year, and I don’t know, I now think that any piece of music can be improved by adding boomwhackers. In any case, I’ll visit with students soon to talk about what a composer does. [Note to self: figure out what it is a composer does.]