Elliot Cole ’03 is working with Musicambia, a nonprofit based in the metropolitan New York area that provides music education in correctional facilities across the United States.
Elliot Cole ’03 is Musicambia's program director at Sing Sing Maximum Security Correctional Facility, just north of New York City; he oversees 25 students who are currently incarcerated.
He writes, "I got involved in music at Sing Sing because I like to teach, and I heard there were some great students there. As a teacher, it's been incredibly rewarding. Getting to teach something to someone who values it is a joy I wish for everyone. But what I've come to care most about isn't that feeling -- it's the connection to the community that has been growing up in our classroom on Saturdays. We celebrate each other. We inspire and admire each other. They're singers and rappers, guitarists and bassists, students and songwriters and composers. They're also teachers; when we're not there, they help each other (rare in prison they tell me!) There's a string quartet who just made their first performance (Bach Minuet in G), a sax player who wrote his first song ("Music XOXO"), guys writing rhymes and big band arrangements, string quartets, an opera. They're the most positive and supportive community I've ever found in music. The American criminal justice system is counter-productive in many ways. One of them is that people in prisons spend years or decades adapting to survive in a culture that would reinforce the worst in any of us. Our students tell us that this community offers them a very rare space in their lives where they can build positive relationships, practice trust and vulnerability, explore openness, challenge themselves to grow, and think of who they are in a new light."
Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.