By Samantha Calimbahin
Wednesday and Friday afternoons at Starpoint School can be quite loud.
When Starpoint students jump and clap to the rhythm of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” they aren’t having a dance party—they’re having music class.
But the focus isn’t solely on the music. The STREAMliners program, run by an organization called The Artist Outreach, integrates music with other subjects, such as vocabulary and geometry, in order to teach students with learning disabilities.
“It is playful,” said Joseph Vincelli, founder and executive director of The Artist Outreach. “It is imaginative, but it’s also educational.”
A year after the program began in 2013, parents like Matthew Wallis say they are seeing results in their child’s learning ability.
“When I first saw the result of it, those performances they do for Grandparents’ Day or Parents’ Day, I was just blown away,” he said. “I was in high school and college choir, and the musicianship that was brought was just phenomenal.”
Another student’s father, Scott Gray, said his son has enjoyed playing music with the other students.
“They love the performances,” Gray said. “They love when people come and listen to them. And the cheering and the applauding and all of that, it’s been really phenomenal.”
The name STREAMliners is based off the academic acronym STEM, meaning “science,” “technology,” “engineering” and “mathematics.” Vincelli includes “reading” and “art,” to create the acronym STREAM.
“Our primary thrust is to cultivate creativity,” he said, “and we do that in a variety of different ways, through art therapy and different types of programs for at-risk students.”
The program came to the school through Brandi Cottingham, an artist and parent of a Starpoint student. She introduced Vincelli to the faculty, who were impressed by his work. Vincelli and his music program soon became a familiar sight at Starpoint and for Cottingham’s son, Logan, who has a severe form of dyslexia.
“If you can take math and translate it into music, then Logan has the ability to almost innately pick up on it and know the patterns of that in such ease and grace,” Cottingham said.
Director and Jean W. Roach Chair of Laboratory Schools Marilyn Tolbert said she hopes the program will continue in the future.
Vincelli describes his work at Starpoint as “rewarding.”
“We work with many different schools and many different formats,” he said, “but we very much look forward to Wednesday and Friday afternoons.