"I got really hooked on the kids. They are really lovely and had a lot of abilities that were not being tapped into." -Stephanie Klurfeld, Know Thyself
In 1996, retired businesswoman Stephanie Klurfeld created Know Thyself to teach contemporary manners, grow self-esteem and offer programming that develops creativity within junior and high school students. "I felt inspired when I closed my business and wanted to give back to the community" says Klurfeld. "I have a creative personality. I like to put things together."
Know Thyself started as a basic manners and self-esteem program, but quickly grew into something much more. Klurfeld says that giving students the chance to travel outside of their neighborhoods and experience different types of art helps them gain perspective and open their world to a whole new set of job opportunities in the creative field.
"[Klurfeld]'s always really tapped into what's going on in the world and the local community", says Maura Fitzgerald, Project Coordinator for Know Thyself. "We also offer wellness programs to try help kids become aware of the impact nutrition and exercise can have on their intellectual and emotional development and behavior."
After meeting Stephanie Klurfeld, it's apparent that she gets just as much from the kids as they get from her program. She jokes, "Even as I age, which I am…I want to be au currant. If you're with younger people, you know what's going on. You're not always pleased at what you are hearing and what's happening, [but] there is always that moment that inspires you."
Know Thyself programs run two semesters during the school year. They are currently working with eight different Middle and High Schools. The groups meet once per week for 2 hours, tackling subjects from bullying to yoga to healthy eating. Activities include field trips to local events, journaling, creative expression and student writing and multimedia art exhibits.
Know Thyself recently partnered with The Greater Milwaukee Foundation to present a new project from the students of Milwaukee High School of the Arts: Standing on Their Shoulders: Memories of Bronzeville.
Program information is found online at knowthyselfproject.org.