News and Roots photo
Performance of Literal, by Tere Martínez. Escuela Superior Trina Padilla de Sanz, San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 5, 2019, as part of the Roots and Action initiative.
Sarah L. Hoiland, assistant professor of sociology at Hostos, and Tere Martínez, playwright and Hostos adjunct professor of theatre (1991-2018) have received a $3,000 grant from Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) for “The Eugenio María de Hostos Drama in Education (DiE) Institute: Using Theater to Enhance Teaching.”

BTtoP, an independent Project established in 2003 in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that supports holistic higher education projects and research, first highlighted the professors’ collaborative work on the “Community Arts for Dialogue, Reflection, and Energy” (CADRE) Project (2016-2018). Launched as a collaborative project with Columbia Law School and Bronx Community College, the CADRE Project utilizes arts and performance as a catalyst to initiate dialogues and understanding on campuses and in the community.

Starting in spring 2017, the CADRE Project recruited student actors and performers from Hostos and BCC in partnership with Columbia Law students, Martínez, and three Broadway artists, including composer Ben Wexler, and created performance pieces intended to spark dialogues. The Hostos CADRE students performed for the first time at New York City’s Council Chamber as part of the National Conference on Sanctuary Cities. The Hostos group also performed at two professional development events for faculty and staff and, in English as a second language classroom at Hostos. Martínez and Professor Hoiland brought a DiE workshop to seniors in June of 2018 to facilitate a dialogue on issues in their community, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Patterson Houses, in the South Bronx.
Identity workshop photo from program
An “identity workshop.” Escuela Superior Juana Colón, Comerío, Puerto Rico, on February 25, 2019.
The artistic endeavor took a serious turn when Hurricane María devasted Puerto Rico in September of 2017. Martínez was already collaborating with schools in Puerto Rico and psychologists to develop an educational theatre project that would bring drama in education techniques into high school classrooms to teach students critical thinking and leadership. The aftermath of hurricanes Irma and María increased Martínez’s urgency to get the work done and spent six weeks in Puerto Rico from December 2017 to January 2018 implementing a pilot project to assess the needs of students and their communities.
Dress rehearsal photo
Dress rehearsal for reading of final play written by Roots and Action students. Robinson School, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 6, 2019.

Since that time, Martínez co-founded Roots and Action/Raíces y Acción with Barbara Vlahides. They spent the 2018-2019 academic year in Puerto Rico working with several schools and Martínez wrote Literal, a play based on interviews with young people on the island. Literal has performed with post-show facilitated dialogues in several venues. Martínez and Vlahides invited Professor Hoiland to serve as a board member in January 2019.

The team believed that the BTtoP AMP Request for Proposals would be a mechanism through which to amplify the groundwork from CADRE and Martínez and Vlahides’ experiences with drama in education (DiE) in Puerto Rico in 2018-2019. The goal is to reach a New York-based audience and teach some of the DiE skills and techniques to K-12 educators, college faculty, community organizers, and non-profit directors.

The one-day DiE Institute will be held at Hostos Community College on Friday, June 28, and will be open to K-12 faculty and administrators, college faculty, staff, and administrators, community activists, and CBO directors. Martínez and Hoiland will facilitate two workshops at Patterson Houses in late June. The purpose of the Institute and workshops at Patterson is to build a community of practitioners in New York City who will utilize DiE tools and take them back to their respective organizations. As project coordinator, Hoiland will organize the Institute and workshops and work on adopting an assessment tool developed for Roots and Action for the DiE Institute.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities for a half-century. Since 1968, Hostos has been a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs.

Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.