Gordon-Gurfinkel teaches “Empowering Community through Creative Expression” and is the Founder and Director of the Telling It. Both the course and the community-based program are part of the Residential College’s commitment to service-learning through community-based internships that integrate experience with academic rigor.
“Empowering Community through Creative Expression” addresses how the arts can affect change for individuals and in communities. The course challenges the understanding of what it means to be empowered and how to be an agent of empowerment. Students learn how to apply the arts as a tool for change in issues of social justice.
Telling It is a community-based program for vulnerable children and youth grades K-12 that employs innovative approaches to boost scholastic confidence by using the healing aspects of the arts, in concert with evidenced-based educational and social work practices. Telling It works in partnership with the Residential College, School of Social Work, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and local social service organizations. The course, “Empowering Community through Creative Expression,” brings in student interns to participate as mentors at the Telling It sites in the community.
Gordon-Gurfinkel was a 2009 Finalist of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Campus and Community Partnership Award (presented by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm) and semifinalist for the 2008 Coming Up Taller Award presented by the U.S. President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities for exemplary programs for out-of-school youth arts and humanities education. In 2005, she received the U-M Ginsberg Center for Community Service Learning Award for Outstanding Faculty Member for service and social action. Gordon-Gurfinkel began working with homeless children in San Francisco during the 1990’s and in 1994, was awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to continue a theatre and creative arts program with San Francisco Bay Area homeless children.
Gordon-Gurfinkel, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education with honors from Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, England. She currently serves as a Lecturer at the U-M Residential College. In addition, she has four years teaching experience in mainstream education as a drama-in-education specialist and twenty-six years experience working with at-risk children and youth in arts and literacy programs.
Empowering Community through Creative Expression (7 years)