For Learning Pathways Fellows, the Future Is the Focus

Taking Programming to the Next Level with Bishop Arts Theatre Center

When Tiffany Jackson received an email about participating in the Learning Pathways Fellowship, saying yes was an easy choice.

“Anything that Big Thought is doing,” she said, “I definitely want to be a part of.”

Bishop Arts Theater Center YouthThe fellowship is a three-month program created as a way to promote Big Thought’s Learning Pathways Project, a city-wide effort that helps youth connect skills developed during out-of-school experiences to the pursuit of a college degree, career certificate or entrepreneurial venture. Out-of-school providers who become fellows learn how to best identify, measure and elevate the 21st-century skills youth develop during their programs. Those modern skills make up the Creator Archetype, a representation of the competencies and experiences that equip and empower youth to create their best lives and world.

As the director of education at Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Jackson saw the fellowship as an opportunity to take programming to the next level. “For me as a leader, as an arts leader, it’s making sure that we’re designing our programming not just so students can learn our particular discipline, but look further out,” she said. “How can they use these things that are taught to them in the future? Are these skills that they’re learning transferable?”

Throughout the three-month program, fellows participate in virtual seminars, office hours and small group meetings to help them better understand how their programming can accomplish and articulate that.

Bishop Arts Theater Center YouthFor theater and the arts, Jackson points to skills like public speaking and self-confidence as lasting benefits sparked by the programming at Bishop Arts Theatre Center (BATC). There’s also the ability to memorize — a helpful tool for studying in school — and learning about the art of storytelling and creating your own narrative. “We know when you’re interviewing, you’re telling the story. You’re helping brand yourself,” Jackson said. “It’s about ‘How can I create these narratives that show I’m the better candidate for this position or for being a part of this school?’”

The Learning Pathways Fellowship curriculum also introduced the idea of incorporating micro-credentials and milestones that youth can achieve as they participate in programming. “It encourages them to not stop,” Jackson said. “They can say, ‘OK, I’ve learned this skill, I’ve gained this credential. Now I’m able to learn the next level and just move forward.’”

With the fellowship completed, Jackson hopes to carry on what she’s learned in Bishop Arts Theatre Center’s youth programming, as well as its offerings for older adult learners — there’s also the hope that BATC will have the opportunity to do more intergenerational programming.

For other out-of-school providers interested in the Learning Pathways Fellowship, Jackson fully recommends it — but be prepared to put in the work, be willing to learn and keep an open mind. And if you need it, Jackson says, there’s plenty of support to be had from both other fellows as well as Big Thought’s Director of Program Design Alli Lee. “I felt that I truly had her support and that she was ready to answer any questions or give me any assistance that I needed.”

To learn more about participating in the Learning Pathways Project and the Learning Pathways Fellowship, click here.