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Through Kid Quixotes, Stephen Haff details an extraordinary program built through the love of teaching: Still Waters in a Storm. What started as a meeting in the upstairs of a local pizza shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn, from the urge to help children learn, soon saw the pizza shop bursting at the seams with more eager minds than it could hold.
Still Waters in a Storm, an after-school program praised for their guidance—and for being a space where undocumented immigrant parents knew their children, aged 5 to 17, would be safe after school in a complicated neighborhood, away from their home lives, where many of them dealt with the very real life struggles of immigration issues—soon grew into more. With Haff’s previous theatre experience, he selected Don Quixote as the first novel they would translate from most of the children’s first language of Spanish, which evolved into writing and performing their own interpretational songs based on the novel’s tale.
Through Haff’s eyes, he explores his own complex story of how he came to start Still Waters in a Storm, the previous high schoolers he taught before that inspired the program, and the children’s incredible journey that turned into performing their translated Don Quixote in front of dozens of crowds, across New York City and beyond. With Kid Quixotes, the empowering, heartfelt story of the children in the Still Waters in a Storm program are brought to light.
Stephen Haff is the founder of Still Waters in a Storm, a one-room school serving Spanish-speaking immigrant children in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Previously, he taught English at a public school in Bushwick for nearly a decade. He earned his MFA in Theater Studies at Yale, and has made a living directing plays and writing essays for the Village Voice and other publications. Stephen lives in Queens with his wife, children’s book author Tina Schneider, and their three children.