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Educators at W.B. Patterson Elementary School, located in the nation’s capital, are spending grant money to expose their students to career goals beyond professional sports and rapping.

Two Patterson students told The Washington Post that they’re dreaming of becoming football players, which only a tiny fraction of college players achieve.

Through its portion of a $1.7 million grant, divided among 16 schools, Patterson teaches its students how to operate cameras, create artwork, produce music and direct plays.

Assistant Principal Fatima Johnson told The Post that the teachers encourage the students to have an alternative career path if sports or rap don’t work out.

“They can be producers, writers and creators,” she stated. “Those are the types of experiences we are trying to create.”

The grants are part of the school system’s Empowering Males of Color initiative, which seeks to address the academic and social needs of minority male students, who are struggling to close the achievement gap with their White counterparts.

It funds a variety of programs, ranging from science courses to art therapy. Some schools have created art-based programs to reduce disruptive behavior.

A 10-year-old student at Bunker Hill Elementary School told The Post that he learned to appreciate his classmates’ artwork and find good things to say. Before taking the art therapy course, he admitted to ridiculing other students without thinking about how they felt.

Bunker Hill Principal Kara Kuchemba said her students have learned to understand themselves and their feelings through art.

The lessons carry over to their interactions with others. They’ve learned to be considerate and not resort to fighting or other negative responses.

These life skills are difficult—if not impossible—to learn through preparation for standardized exams, she stated.

SOURCE: Washington Post

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