Hill Middle School kids will be learning poetry and performance from Suzi Q. Smith

The job is part of her new role with Youth on Record, which is part of a new pilot program.
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Suzi Q. Smith poses for a portrait. The Empathy Museum’s traveling “A Mile in My Shoes” exhibit is ready to open downtown, an early installation of this year’s Biennial of the Americas, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

About 100 kids at Hill Middle School will get a new teacher this year. Denver artist Suzi Q. Smith will be teaching poetry and performance classes at the school as part of her new role with Youth on Record, an organization that brings arts education to at-risk communities.

Smith -- a well-known activist, poetry slam participant and writer -- is also the co-chair of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs.

Smith previously served as an adviser and partner artist for Youth on Record.

"Having Suzi Q back in the daily mix of our work is a dream come true. She's a fierce and talented artist, who is also nurturing, politically and socially informed, and brilliant. Plus, she's absolutely hilarious," Jami Duffy, Youth on Record's executive director, said in a release. "This combination is exactly what our students need in the classroom."

Smith's teaching role is part of a pilot program Youth on Record is launching in middle schools. In addition to teaching, Smith will help the organization with its strategic plan for the next 10 years.

"Youth on Record has so much to offer the local and regional arts community, and will soon roll out our strategy to further prepare traditionally marginalized musicians for careers in the creative industries," Duffy said.

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