Culminating a month-long summer enrichment program, 40 Salem high school English Language Learning (ELL) students unveiled a self-curated art exhibit at the National Park Service Visitor Center in Salem on August 1. Documenting their experiences through photography and writing, the students created a six-panel display to educate the public about work in Salem’s past, present, and future.

Called Salem at SEA (Salem Summer ELL Academy 2013): HELP WANTED Celebrating the Ingenuity, Multi-Culturalism and Enterprising Nature of the Citizens of Salem, the program aimed to help students improve their literacy and English language fluency while focusing on work and career pathways.  Funding via a grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office on Education allowed Salem State University to collaborate with educators and several local institutions, including Essex National Heritage Commission and Salem CyberSpace, to make the program possible.

In keeping with the program’s focus, students visited heritage sites related to the theme of local work, including the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Maritime National Heritage Site, and Lowell’s Tsongas Center for Industrial History. At these sites, participants experienced the skills and knowledge that were necessary in the region’s maritime and industrial past. They explored present-day work opportunities through interviews with family and community members and incorporated this learning into their exhibit.

As part of the celebratory event at the National Park Service Visitor Center, several students presented reflections about the power of the program in helping them to improve their English and connect to their community. Their exhibit will run through September.

Read the article about Salem at SEA that appeared in Boston Globe North (pdf.)