Bathsheba Smithen, Founder and CEO of Cage Free Voices is a lady with a lofty mission. An educator by training, she is also a motivational speaker, performer, entrepreneur - all rolled into one. An experienced thought leader with 15 years of experience in the field, she set up Cage Free Voices as an international multi-service system that educates youth and adults who struggle with self-image and identity issues. Her goal is to unlock the maximum potential within children and adults alike by providing them with powerful learning experiences that are free from the constructs that characterize conventional school and college education. These experiences can vary depending on the nature of the individual. One learner might have musical talent and another, a flair for drama. The lessons that are provided through Cage Free Voices help students leverage their unique abilities to realize their true potential.
Said Bathsheba Smithen, Founder and CEO of Cage Free Voices, "As a young girl who was brought up with 8 siblings by a single mother in the projects, I never thought I would end up as an educator. I now realize that from my childhood, I have been teaching in one form or another. I started out teaching my siblings and then refined my teaching skills when I majored in Biology at Virginia Tech. At college, I realized that I studied different subjects in different ways, some in a visual and musical manner, some with acronyms. This experience is reflected in the lessons we provide as part of the programs at Cage Free Voices."
Bathsheba went on to get a master's in health system management, with a concentration in health policy. Eventually she ended up going into the school system. After witnessing a lot of the disparities within both the health care and education sectors, Bathsheba decided that her career lay in educational entrepreneurship. As a musician, she felt the need to lend a voice to the voiceless who were facing systemic bullying or difficulties with their identities and learning. She clearly understood that every child has a different way of learning.
Bathsheba set up Cage Free Voices to cater to these different styles of learning. As she puts it, the potential of every child can't be unlocked using the same key. Students need to better understand their own innate abilities, in order to improve, for example, their literacy or math skills. A child may not understand a conventional division problem, but when it is explained in terms of the child's area of interest, be it music or baseball, he can relate to it and perform better. So, the first step students at Cage Free Voices take is to complete an interest-based questionnaire.
Said Bathsheba, "True to our tagline, ‘See yourself, even if the world is blind', students can understand themselves through education and this is our purpose. Our digital library, poetry, writing, workshops, cross-cultural experiences, and self-paced interactive lessons, some gamified, all combine to ensure students reach their true potential. With our unique approach, we soon begin to see students thriving in areas that they have previously struggled with. When we explain to a student who struggles with math how it is invaluable in solving real life-based problems, it unlocks doors to further progress. We offer programs for both school-going students and adult learners to improve their professional skills.
There's an educational pandemic. Many students are struggling with literacy. We are trying to liberate them from their struggles by equipping them with the necessary skills. It is not just about academics, it is a lifestyle where their voices are heard and they are seen for who they are. Some people have the misconception that when we say cage free, we mean doing whatever you like. Being cage free is being all of who God created you to be, and not being limited by your circumstances."
Cage Free Voices has a digital, broadcasting curriculum that serves as a route for students to express themselves through the performing arts. Another platform for them to express themselves is through Cage Free Voices Theatre. Through role playing, participants have improved their reading skills and developed their sensitivity to culturally sensitive topics. In terms of adult education, Cage Free Voices is working on professional development programs for teachers who need assistance with engaging their students through a virtual learning platform.The digital literacy library that is currently in development is highly useful for parents who want to educate their children, as it is a subscription-based model with a curriculum tailor-made by Cage Free Voices.
In short, through its lessons Cage Free Voices effectively conveys the idea that the skills they learn through the curriculum are intimately connected to their daily life. This is a critical component that is missing in academic learning at schools and this is the gap that Cage Free Voices is striving to fill.
About Cage Free Voices:
Cage Free Voices, LLC is an educational entertainment company that seeks to target youth and young adults who struggle with self-image through literature, spoken-word, workshops, conferences, seminars, music, and events.