Kate Torres is a high school sophomore who wrote a very personal song about her father, a song most girls her age might not have the confidence to create. But with the help of a nonprofit organization and a professional band, Kate was given the opportunity, encouragement, and support to share her song and make her story heard.
Attendance Records is the nonprofit that helped her find her voice through poetry and songwriting, and encouraged her to have the confidence to step out and speak, and have her words recorded by a professional band! It’s all a part of the group’s inspiring mission:
Attendance Records is dedicated to bringing creativity back into schools by connecting teachers and students with local writers, artists and musicians. By providing students with the opportunity to design, write and produce their own album, students will build confidence skills that will result in discovering what makes them unique.
The Austin-based group has worked with over 100 kids, including many high school students who hope to be the first in their families to attend college, and youth from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
This is more than just lip-service to self-esteem. It’s providing kids with the chance to take risks, to explore their passions, to find their strengths, and to uncover and share their voices.
Attendance Records Executive Director, Jenna Carrens, provided a bit more information about the process itself. She told me, “We build a safe classroom environment where students are respectful, encouraging, and proud of the work they share. Of course our whole creative community does not instantly happen after our first class, or even our second, or third. It’s a process of building trust, respect, and motivation. I think that being an integral member in the making of such a complex project from start to finish that combines such talented members of the community (musicians, designers, artists, writers, etc.) is the ultimate confidence booster.”
What can we, as parents, learn from this? Some powerful lessons about deep trust, making space for vulnerability, and supporting our kids as they work through challenging, complex projects over time.
“One of the main things I’ve learned from this program is that in order for a student to fully commit to something, they need to feel trusted and supported. I don’t mean trusted in a way that means turning homework in on time but, trusted in way that your student feels comfortable sharing their vulnerable feelings with you because they value your feedback especially when things might not be so great. Being supportive mirrors that. Allow your student to express their emotions and thoughts creatively and encourage them to share their work at a family dinner or holiday get together. Give your student something to work towards from start to finish, whether that be putting together a puzzle and framing it on the wall, or reading a Shel Silverstein story and trying to imitate his writing style to create an original piece. Your trust and support will not only boost your student’s self esteem, it will give them the courage to pursue their own unique interests.”
Courage to pursue their own unique interests … that’s certainly something I want for my children. It’s exciting to see an organization doing just that for a group of students in Austin.
Attendance Records is doing amazing things. You can learn more about their work here.
Here’s the full video of Kate Torres’ song: