High school teacher plays to his crowd

By WilliamPrentiss

Perspectives Charter Schools may have less money to spend on its after-school programs this year, but its faculty has come up with their own way to make up for the school’s budget constraints.

Perspectives Instructor David Doll (right) teaches students to play guitar in the Kids Rock after-school program. From left: Alanna Johnson, Brenden Jackson and Alex Aguilar.anna Johnson, Brenden Jackson, and Alex Aguilar.Matthew Kayser teaches at PCI’s Rodney D.  Joslin Campus and is also the lead singer of the band Poster. They will take the stage at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Dec. 8 for the benefit concert Bang the Drum: A Benefit for the Arts at Perspectives Charter School. Proceeds from the show will pay for instruments and art supplies at the Rodney D.  Joslin campus.  Soft Speaker, King Sparrow and Helicopter will also perform.

“Even if people don’t care about the cause and don’t want to help kids with the arts, I really think it will be worth people’s 10 bucks to see these bands,” Kayser said.

Kayser already has experience organizing benefit concerts. The first one he put together benefited New York’s homeless with jackets and coats gathered from the audience, and he organized a similar concert in Raleigh, N.C. while living there. His current job and experience playing music made the Bang the Drum concert an

easy leap.

“It just made a lot of sense,” Kayser said. “I’m all about trying to put together causes—to get bands to work toward something instead of just beer and getting people to hang out. It seems like a worthwhile cause, and it’s something we believe in.”

Other after-school programs include salsa dancing lessons—which has a dedicated student following—a newspaper, a step team and a drama club. Kate Cichon, Rodney D. Joslin Campus program director, said that the after-school budget was cut more than 40 percent, which has limited the school’s ability to buy art supplies and guitars for their Kid’s Rock program.

Cichon said these are often the type of things that get cut first when schools tighten their budgets. This has forced administrators to think more creatively and look for ways to generate funds from outside donors.

“That’s the way a lot of nonprofits are going now,” Cichon said. “They have to do a little bit more grass roots organizing with events like this.”

Cichon said that the arts are a vital facet of education in a student’s life, especially ones preparing themselves for college.

“They learn the kind of dedication it takes to get good at something when you start from nothing,” Cichon said. “Music and art is all about that. There are some students that have some sort of core ability, but mostly everybody has to start with very little and practice.  As a school that is college-oriented, that is an incredibly important lesson for our students to have.”

This will be the first event the school has facilitated, but Cichon said they would like to continue them in the future. The bands participating have been very enthusiastic to help out, she said.

Blaire Douglass, Soft Speaker’s bassist, played in her elementary school band and said she’s happy to perform for a

good cause.

“It’s really great when kids can get introduced to music in school,” Douglass said. “When people think they need to go in and they cut a budget, music and arts is the first thing to go … It’s sad because people aren’t introduced to different artistic expressions to help them express themselves.”

This is the first benefit the band has performed. Douglass hadn’t heard of Kayser’s band before he got in touch with her band’s manager. Joe Daley, Soft Speaker’s drummer, has performed benefit concerts before, many of those to raise money for his brother’s illness.

“People come to those gigs for different reasons but for me—and I can only speak from my experience—playing the actual show is no different,” Daley said. “You still enjoy playing just as much.”