Rise Out News

Arts Education Internships at Rise Out

This semester we are launching a new arts program in Jamaica Plain for teenagers to take classes in music, filmmaking, and visual arts. When they are not in a class, they’ll have the opportunity to work on their own projects. We are seeking one or more interns to lead classes and to supervise the studio space where teens will be working independently.

This position comes with a $500-600 stipend. Lesley University has approved this site so Lesley students can also receive college credit if they're enrolled through Lesley's internship seminar program. Students at other colleges should check with their departments; Rise Out is happy to assist with whatever you need in the way of paperwork, evaluations, and other documentation to make this a for-credit opportunity. You may also apply if you are not currently a college student, though you must be over 18 and have completed high school. Former homeschoolers are encouraged to apply.

Job Description:

The program will run 10:00-3:00 on Mondays for 12 weeks, Jan. 22-Apr. 23 at Spontaneous Celebrations, a community center in Jamaica Plain. Interns should arrive half an hour early and stay half an hour at the end of the day to do set-up and clean-up. In addition to these hours, interns should devote approximately 1.5 hours/week to class preparation, promotional activities, and other tasks as needed (90 hours total for the semester).

Spontaneous Celebrations has off-street parking and is accessible by T.


  • Set up the art materials each morning and do clean-up at the end of the day. Assist other teachers with these tasks as necessary throughout the day.
  • Supervise students working in the studio on their own independent projects.
  • Lead at least one class or workshop of your own design. This could be one or more one-day workshops, an ongoing class that students take for an hour each week, or something in between (to be agreed upon with your supervisor). 
  • Come in each day ready to work on your own art projects! A key part of this internship is leading by example: high school students should see you, a college student, immersed in your own creative challenges. Come with a sketchbook, paints, a musical instrument, the storyboard for your film project, or whatever it is you’re working on and be prepared to spend the day doing your work alongside theirs.
  • That said, your supervisory duties come first. If there is a conflict or emergency that requires adult attention, you should be prepared to drop your own work and attend to the situation immediately for as long as is required to resolve the situation.
  • At the end of the semester, you should prepare a write-up of your experience suitable for posting on our web site, Facebook page, and other promotional materials.


  • The ideal candidate will be majoring in a subject related to arts or education. Arts majors should have a demonstrated interest in working with youth; education majors should have a demonstrated interest in the arts. If you are not majoring in a subject related to arts or education, please describe any experience you have with either field and why you think this position is a good fit for you.
  • Ability to plan and execute a class or workshop with minimal supervision. You’ll be given considerable freedom in designing the course you teach. Our classes have no grades, no testing, and no set curriculum, which gives you a level of flexibility you won’t find in schools and other structured settings. But we do require that teachers have a plan for each lesson. Prior to beginning a course, you should be prepared to submit a syllabus to your supervisor and have a discussion about the goals you’ve outlined for its successful execution.
  • Familiarity with homeschooling is not required, but acceptance of homeschooling is a must. Our students (and their parents) are comfortable with their decision to leave high school and will expect that you are, too.
  • A positive, confident, professional attitude when interacting with staff and students. There will be other teachers and interns on-site; you are expected to cooperate with them as you would with co-workers in any professional setting.
  • Flexibility and compassion. In every program we run, we have students dealing with depression and anxiety, students who have recently left school due to bullying or other trauma, students who are very shy, and students whose commitment to a particular class is marginal since they are juggling many other activities. If you have rigid ideas about what a “good” student looks like and are unwilling to be flexible in your expectations, this position is not a good fit for you.
  • Excellent attendance record. We are required to maintain a certain teacher:student ratio for legal reasons. We are a small program and a single teacher absence causes significant disruption to our programming. If work or school attendance is something you’ve struggled with in the past, this position is not a good fit for you.


Students who successfully complete the internship will receive a $500 stipend at the end of the semester. Perfect attendance carries an additional $100 stipend.

To Apply:

Send an e-mail to Laura Fokkena at laura@rise-out.com. Include your resume as an attachment as a PDF or MS Word document. Resumes in other formats will not be considered. In the body of the e-mail, describe why you are interested in the position and what you believe you could contribute to our program. Be sure to include your contact information and the best time(s) to reach you.

All applications will be kept on file, though not all applicants will be contacted. If you do not hear from us within 14 days, assume we have not chosen your application and feel free to look for other opportunities. Rise Out has a small staff and unfortunately cannot respond to every e-mail.

High school students don’t need me? Oh well.

The Rise Out Independent Education Project has been going along swimmingly. We have nine dedicated students who are working in a diverse range of fields: music, coding, health and fitness, history research, and patent development.

When I first launched this initiative, my focus was on the word Project. What would students actually DO for a year? I spent an inordinate amount of time coming up with example projects, assuming that students would appreciate my suggestions. Yeah never mind. As it turned out, each of them already had a project in mind, or developed one during the first semester, something borne out of their own interests: a question they were grappling with, a problem they were prepared to spend a full year pursuing.

My secondary focus was on the word Education. All projects should be educational, right? How would I ensure this? Who defines what’s “educational”? What if a student proposed to watch nothing but hockey? Or write a report on the Kardashian family history? Would it be up to me to veto projects I considered shallow? What if I approved, but their parents didn’t? How would I handle that? I debated all this, in the privacy of my own brain, during the summer before anyone had even enrolled in the class.

In all that time, though, I’d given little to thought to what I now realize is the most important word in that phrase: Independent. It took a death in the family to make me realize its importance.

Two weeks before our final meeting before Christmas, I learned that my 21-year-old cousin had been killed in a car accident in Iowa. I sent a quick e-mail to the Rise Out students, telling them I wouldn’t be able to make our last meeting but encouraging them to go on without me, and then turned my attention to packing. I left Boston that same night, too distracted to think about anything but my family. Had the whole class collapsed because of my last-minute absence, I’m not sure I would have noticed. At that moment, my mind was elsewhere.

But then a remarkable thing happened. Something that made me realize why I like doing this work in the first place.

A few days before the group was set to meet, I checked my e-mail in Iowa and saw that I’d received a polite note from Alex, age 17, one of Rise Out’s student participants. He gave me his condolences, and then asked if I had a facilitator in mind for the meeting I could not attend. If not, he and his brother, Owen — another student participant — offered to organize it in my absence. Of course I agreed.

A week later Alex e-mailed me the notes from that meeting: the meeting I (naively) worried they couldn’t manage without me. I’m including it here, with Alex’s permission, because I think it wonderfully illustrates that once you have Independent in place, Education and Project will naturally follow:

Hi Laura,

I hope you’re doing well! Friday’s meeting was more or less a success.

Matthew started for us. He’s been talking with various people involved with his internship. One of them explained to him that the MIT “Build Your Own Drone” workshop wants to follow his project and watch it, which is exciting. That was all he really had to say, but he did go over some math stuff with Eddy and Owen as well. The content of that talk is lost on me (as math is not my strong suit).

Owen presented some work in Python that he had been doing lately. This included a program he calls the “Cracker”, which generates a random 3-digit password and then sets about trying to find the password. The Cracker did not quite work as intended though, because upon finding the password, it would continue to search and wouldn’t stop. Owen and Matthew looked at the code itself while I conveniently avoided that by talking with Eddy about Sebastian and about the difficulties of writing sheet music.

Then it was my turn. I displayed a video I had made, featuring a song of mine set to a slideshow. Upon its completion, I gave Eddy and Matthew a small questionnaire I had made, asking for their general opinions on what I do and asking if they know any artists that I could try to create cover art for my album with. With that, I had nothing more to add and so I ended my turn far ahead of schedule.

Finally, Eddy’s turn arrived. It turns out, he has built a large, clunky model of his invention. Also, upon plugging it into his computer, he could use a program made in Visual C++ that would display the results of the measuring. At this point, a small coding debate broke out because Matthew considers the Visual version of C++ as cheating, while Eddy and Owen defended the system. It was a civil debate, but then Eddy’s computer ran out of battery so his turn also came to an end.

The last 30 minutes of the meeting were filled up by Eddy asking Matthew an intense math question. The idea behind it seemed to be that Eddy needs to make a robot and wants to know if there’s a way to program it to go in an arc towards a destination. This seemingly simple question was not as simple as one might think, and it took about 30 minutes to even come close to an answer. I meanwhile tried to stay awake (trigonometry is boring, what can I say?). Upon reaching 12 PM, Eddy and Matthew dashed off, talking about math, leaving Owen and I to put all the chairs back (not that we minded, of course).

So that, therefore, concludes this report of the meeting. I hope you enjoyed, and have yourself a merry little Chri… Umm, I mean, Holiday Season!
— Alex LaRosa

I’ve been teaching for over a dozen years, and never have I felt so gloriously irrelevant. The stated goal, in all my professional development workshops, is that we, as educators, do our tasks so well that we work ourselves out of a job. A wonderful goal! But one we never really expect to happen.

Yet here I am. Convinced yet again that as adults we give ourselves too much credit.

Rise Out’s first students take different paths to college

Rise Out’s Indiegogo campaign has come to end. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. Having a scholarship fund has helped us get off the ground as a new organization, starting with the support of two talented students.

Rise Out’s very first student has started taking college classes as she finishes her last semester at an alternative high school. She plans to become a teacher in an area of Boston that has had difficulty retaining qualified educators. She is already an advocate for children and the arts, as well as for girls and LGBT students who face bullying and gender stereotyping in school. I’m excited that she’s been working with us, because the country needs more smart teachers who love learning for its own sake, but who also understand that there are many valid reasons that students might disengage with school. She’ll be applying her personal experience with non-traditional education, concretely and directly, in her future career, thus paying forward the contributions of everyone who supported our summer campaign.

Rise Out’s second student moved across the country in the final semester of her senior year. Her new city offered few solutions for credit recovery; she was told that she needed to re-enroll in high school full-time and start her senior year all over again, even though she was only one credit shy of her diploma. By working with Rise Out, she was able to get approval to take one self-paced course online and transfer it back to her old school, allowing her to graduate much sooner. She’s now exploring her college options, as well as work and study opportunities abroad.

Two different students, in different circumstances, with different future goals, but both have been able to benefit from an individualized approach as they transition from high school to college.

Rise Out is launching!

Once just an idea, then a Tumblr account, then a Facebook group, Rise Out, Inc. is now a nonprofit organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We will be launching on July 1, 2012. Very exciting!

Rise Out will provide academic counseling to Boston-area teens who want to leave high school (with or without a diploma) in order to create their own individualized, self-designed, one-of-a-kind education — an education where learning is paramount, but school is optional.

We’re currently filling out approximately sixteen thousand tax forms, which we hope will impress the kindly folk at the Internal Revenue Service. If they approve our nonprofit mission and grant us 501(c)(3) status, we — like Gandalf and Yoda before us — will be able to provide sage academic wisdom at no charge to students with financial need, and we’ll be able to give scholarships to students who want to take classes, workshops, or participate in activities around Boston. We’re also setting aside some money to give to financially strapped students who want to design projects of their own, like starting a business, or setting up a home art studio.

Rise Out, The Nonprofit Organization (as opposed to the less impressive Rise Out, The Tumblr Page) is made possible through the generosity of a donor who liked our idea and has agreed to pay our start-up costs. However, we’ll still need to do more fundraising to cover the cost of scholarships. We’ll be starting a crowdfunding campaign soon, but in the meantime feel free to visit our Support page and donate. Even small gifts make a difference!