As a capstone to Women’s History Month, we are celebrating our founder, Aileen Moffitt who, guided by mentors and her students themselves, helped to create a historical arts program that is still going strong 36 years later. Aileen, born and raised in Oakland, brought her experience with clowning and juggling to her work as a dedicated educator to Prescott Elementary in the eighties. As a white woman teaching outside of her culture, her developing cultural consciousness, spurred by mentorship from African American teachers, led to her commitment to promote social justice through the circus program. She was dedicated to recognizing and valuing the culture of her students as top priority. This expressed itself through the love she showed her students and the incredible performances of the “Prescott Clowns.”
Former students continue to acknowledge their time with “Miss Moffitt” and the Prescott Circus as pivotal to their development as they were growing up. Countless teaching artists credit Aileen with awakening their own cultural consciousness and skills as educators. Aileen Moffitt has made a lasting indelible mark on Oakland that continues to inspire youth circus programs around the country.
“I have massive appreciation for the Prescott School community. We received all kinds of love and support because our students consistently represented themselves, their school, their families, and West Oakland in such a proud and positive manner. The hard work was intense, and so was the fun. We all learned together.”
“To the extent that I have internalized the Afro-centric curriculum that implores teachers to touch the spirit of the children, so has my spirit been touched. Applying all of this to circus – well, that was just secondary.” from “Touching the Spirit in Oakland: 27 years of growth with the Prescott Circus Theatre” by Aileen Moffitt.
Read the full article here.