Although I introduce myself as Jaiel Butterfly, my students know me as Mrs. Monroe. For the past 18 years I have been a teacher in the New York City public school system teaching everything from Kindergarten music to middle school Humanities to 12th grade college prep. Through all those years I have been focused and dedicated to educating, motivating and elevating the children I teach by helping them to discover and nurture their artistic and creative talents.
When I started Butterfly Scholars, it was a small lunchtime discussion group. These were the students that just needed someone to talk to and preferred to sing and dance instead of go to recess. From that small group we began The Butterfly Dancers and performed for the school community in monthly showcases. As the Butterfly Scholars grew, I documented our rehearsals, performances and student testimonials to create my own YouTube channel.
Unfortunately, what happened instead was a common occurrence in education where the performing arts are put aside for the intense preparation of standardized testing. And since I felt essentially trapped in my profession, forced to teach content that was turning my students off to the intrinsic love of learning, I took every opportunity, every lunch, every prep period, every afterschool hour, every weekend to celebrate and nurture the talents and abilities of my students.
I founded Chrysalis Camera Summer Academy to teach students in the Bronx how to perform & record their artistry and each other using digital media. Each summer our numbers grew and our activities increased but I still felt in my heart that more students needed this opportunity. When the COVID-19 quarantine forced us all into remote learning I decided to seize the opportunity to revisit my original goal of having a safe space for students to express their ideas about the world around them and interpret their opinions through performing & media arts.
On Metamorphosis Mondays, I have been releasing videos on both of my YouTube channels. The Butterfly Scholars channel is geared toward youth and stars my own children: Ryan, Jasmine and El'Shango. They are each a different type of creative and show their growth as artists in front of the camera. Ryan is a great narrator and mathmagician - yes I said it. He does equations with numbers that boggle my mind and can only be described as magical! Jasmine is a lover of musical theater! She does her TikToks, and web challenges and destroys my dishes and surfaces with her science experiments. SMH. EL'Shango is the most animated, fiery and articulate little boy! He loves vehicles, animals, mysteries and music. All three of them are the original Butterfly Scholars and are my pride and joy. They, along with children who have become Butterfly Scholars over the years build their artistic media portfolios by participating in Chrysalis Camera Academy online,
The Chrysalis Camera channel adds videos that have been more of my personal outlet for poetry, singing, graphic design, digital editing and music composition. I have been using it as a model for my students to see me be vulnerable and take the risk to put myself out there on a public platform with my artistic talents. One of the features on the Chrysalis Camera channel is my podcast "Inside the Chrysalis" that brings in career professionals and performers to discuss themes, listen to original music and be inspired to write and discuss relevant issues. Each episode, the guests give advice to the Butterfly Scholars to continue to inspire them.
But performance is not the only goal in motivating our youth. We must educate our children on social issues and allow them to form and express their own opinions with confidence. First we must inform ourselves. I admit I am not an expert of politics but I do know that the recent events of the Trump supporters invading the Capitol Building and the many protests of Black Lives Matter leading up to today are an indication that our country is radically divided. We must read more, learn more, research more and be more aware of what is happening in our society so that our children can make informed decisions for themselves and ultimately their futures. Then we must allow them to time and space to use their creativity to transform their ideas into ART.
Starting in February, we will be having LIVE talent shows open to all ages but focused on allowing students to practice and perform their singing, rapping, dancing, spoken word and playing of instruments. To sign up to perform please email firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message @Jaiel.Butterfly on Instagram. I am excited and honored to provide this performance forum for students and look forward to continue growing the Butterfly Scholars community.
I look forward to expanding the Butterfly Scholars community to students all around the world now that we have the opportunity to communicate online. Chrysalis Camera uses media to document the magic of metamorphosis. Butterfly Scholars are the educated, motivated and elevated youth of today that will become the leaders and artists of tomorrow! Join the journey!
For more information about what Chrysalis Camera has to offer, there are some next steps you can take to become part of the Butterfly Scholars community. It's as easy as clicking on the purple links below to connect and grow the Metamorphosis Movement.