“I’m Savion, it’s nice to meet you.”
The Lower East Side teenager’s artsy demeanor complimented his knack for writing poetry, but could not fully convey the depth of his incredible talent.
Camera-ready, he sat and introduced himself.
“My name is Savion, I am 15 years old, and I am a poet.”
Savion has been going to Edgie’s Teen Center at Educational Alliance for a year and a half, where he is nurtured by peers and encouraged by his instructors to be the best student, writer, and artist he can be.
Savion’s magnetic laugh brought light into every room we visited as he walked me through his life at Educational Alliance. We strolled around his school campus and constantly had to stop as floods of students approached him for a hug or a high five. He made it clear that, while he enjoys making people laugh and feel good about themselves at school, academics are something he takes very seriously.
“School, for me, is very important, especially when it comes to my family—my parents are strict on school. They couldn’t have the opportunities that I have right now. They want to push me to do the best I can and also to do what I want to do. But, before I can proceed they want me to take school seriously.”
His parents immigrated from Georgetown Guiana in the early 2000s, and since their arrival, they have worked hard and encouraged their children to take their education and passions seriously.
Currently, his father works at a New York Public Library and his mom is in physical therapy and unable to work due to an injury. Savion is the youngest of three siblings and the only sibling still living in his household. As a result, he often takes on the responsibility of helping his parents and ensuring that his mom is recovering well, on top of school and his other obligations.
When he is not helping his family, Savion is pursuing his music and poetry. “Edgies” (our teens’ shorthand for Educational Alliance) helps him develop this talent.
“What keeps me going to Edgies is the bond I have with the people there. Communicating and having friendships that matter and a bind that connects us all together—a place that we can be and communicate, and just have fun—a way to exchange ideas—it made me more of who I am,” Savion said.
Savion, like others at Edgies, is experiencing an uncertain period in life full of change, confusion, and growth. Young adulthood is a delicate time where our students find themselves questioning and discovering their identities while managing life in a beautiful, yet fast and overwhelming city. Savion is one of many students navigating their studies, home life, and social life while figuring out their true passion and purpose. Many of the students in the Lower East Side attend under-resourced high schools and nearly 1 in 5 students drop out. Edgies provides students in this community with a space to connect with others and find a mentor to support them through high school and into college.
Through the programs at Edgies, Savion says he has been able to combat peer pressure, sharpen his writing skills, and recognize his talent and potential for long-term success as a poet and rapper. The Spoken Word class offered at Edgies is a program he is passionate about.
“Spoken word has helped me because- comparing that class to school- it has helped me break down stories and analyze text, which has improved my essay writing. [The Spoken Word program] has helped me with vocab, speaking, and presenting as well.”
Writing and music are a way he deals with his obstacles and an important part of Savion’s life.
“When it comes to writing about things—it’s in the moment. If I’m angry, I’ll write how I am feeling. If the day is nice or if it’s a busy day, I’ll write something happy about how everyone is smiling or around each other,” he said. “Back in 8th grade, I was going through that stage of insecurity and I was listening to [Kendrick Lamar] because some of the topics he was talking about—friends, peer pressure—it really connected with me and what was going on with me. The fact that somebody was talking about situations that people go through—the daily struggle—it helps people out a lot.”
Savion has been able to record and visit a professional recording studio because of the resources Edgies provides. The Spoken Word class gives teens time to acclimate, write, share and explore. Savion explains that the feedback he gets about his work helps to improve his writing structure and rhymes. Edgies also provides professional opportunities for students to showcase their talent. “Edgies’ Got Talent had professional judges and it was a platform to put my talent out there,” Savion said.
Currently, Savion is struggling with his grades and, as a way to combat the issues he is facing in school, his mentors at Edgies have set up a personalized tutoring schedule. As I stood outside of Manny Cantor Center, I watched Savion’s mother, who is an Instructor and Edgies Program Director, review his progress report from school. They worked together to strategize a plan to strengthen the subjects he was not doing well in. “Right now my grades are not up to par. It’s not that they are bad, but I know I can do better. The people around me know I can do better. Edgies is helping me with tutoring and people to help support me,” he said.
Shortly after this meeting, Savion admitted that he too believed he could do better academically and he has every intention of getting there. He knows that school will ultimately help him to reach his goals and find a career path.
“If I really focus in school it will help me—the college I plan to go to is Ithaca College because when I went there for a tour, they really showed me what they were about. They fit the art genre and business as well. I plan to major in business. I plan to be a famous poet, rapper, producer, businessman because behind the music, there is a business you have to understand,” he said, “but ultimately, I love music. Music is always my passion. Without music, I don’t think I would be who I am today.”
Educational Alliance and Edgies have supported Savion’s passion and growth. We encourage students’ to explore and develop their talents by offering programs that meet their needs and pique their interests.
“When I went to the orientation for Edgies they mentioned a poetry class. At the time I was doing poetry but I never took it that seriously because I thought it was just a hobby. I thought it was not going to lead anywhere but then as I started going to classes more often it was like alright this is fun they are giving me more advice to take in and criticism that can help me for the future—for what I want to do,” he said. Our programming allowed Savion to discover and develop his potential as a poet and writer and we will continue to be there on his journey into the future.