Shakespeare At Risk targets ninth and tenth grade ‘at risk’ students in East Mecklenburg High School and immerses them in an intensive study of two Shakespeare plays over the course of the year, culminating in student-written and -adapted scenes from the play each semester. A collaborative program run by one university faculty member and an East Meck Special Ed teacher, Shakespeare At Risk has three components: 1) intensive study of two Shakespeare plays over the academic year, 2) a performed adaptation of a play each semester, and 3) a week-long, summer camp on the UNC Charlotte campus in June or July, where students continue their work with Shakespeare and receive counseling on college admissions and financial aid.
While Shakespeare is already taught in freshman classes, teachers typically spend only several class periods on a play (Romeo and Juliet). We augment learning that is already taking place in their classrooms by dedicating one semester each to two plays (one of them Romeo and Juliet), which allows students to achieve greater mastery. And, because we can teach students intensively about the play’s language and themes and having them write about them regularly, they also become better readers and writers in general. The summer camp at UNC Charlotte immerses them in a college environment as they develop and continue to use these skills.