Isaiah’s Story

Isaiah Mākar (Founder & Chief Engagement Officer of IMPACT MĀKARS), found his voice in the Spoken Word Club at Oak Park & River Forest High School. Upon joining the OPRF Spoken Word Club, which is featured in Steve James’ Starz docu-series, “America to Me,”  Isaiah overcame his fear of public speaking and social anxiety (interview here). After graduating with his degree in Communication (concentration on organizational and corporate communication) from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Isaiah used his research on how poetry can be used in the classroom to enhance and sustain student engagement, which won the “Outstanding Oral Presentation” award at the Illinois Summer Research Symposium, to design the Mākar Method.

The Mākar Method is a cross-disciplinary learning model focusing on applying spoken word poetry skills to practice six communication styles that are transferable beyond a stage and a page to foster the learning and development of educators and employees. Isaiah demonstrated the Mākar Method by teaching a class at Roosevelt University for undergrad students titled, “Teaching is a Performance,” where he taught how to blend creative spoken word aesthetics into a teaching style that better engages students. He also led the “Teaching is a Performance” workshop session at INCubatoredu’s National Summit, training entrepreneurial educators on applying poetic performance techniques to foster an “edutaining” learning environment. For the Disrupt-HR Chicago event at 1871, Isaiah performed an original rap titled, “The Ten HR Commandments: Don’t Think Small. Think Biggie” (video here), in front of an audience of over 250 HR representatives from companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Google, and Amazon, among others. For each commandment he rhymed about how communication skills from spoken word poetry can train employees. Recently, Isaiah led a workshop of nearly 200 HR professionals at the CUPA-HR Conference, which focused on stress relief, team building, and learning creative transferable communication skills from spoken word poetry.

Isaiah served as a 2018 Arts Education panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts. He was the Spoken Word Coordinator and teaching artist for the Oak Park Education Foundation where he organized and hosted poetry slams and events in the Oak Park community. Isaiah completed a residencies for the Auditorium Theater where he taught poetry at four schools in CPS on the Southside and Westside of Chicago and Chinatown in just one month. Isaiah has been featured as a guest lecturer (UIC, Roosevelt University, and Loyola University), a teaching artist or performer at nearly 20 schools ranging from elementary to universities. He served as a mentor coach for OPRF’s Louder Than A Bomb slam team and has over 7 years of customer service experience of work including at Nike, Levi, and Nordstrom. This unique background has allowed Isaiah to blend communication tactics from sales, teaching, and performance to introduce innovative engagement mechanics.

After his mom experienced a stroke from the stresses of working in the HR industry (
article here), Isaiah believes self-care is just as important as work and we should utilize the arts in work settings in order to prioritize self-care and perform at our best.

Below are some organizations Isaiah has served.

Grainger Inc
One Hope United
National Endowment of the Arts
Chicago SHRM
Auditorium Theater
School of Rock
One Earth Film Festival
Communities First Association
Oak Park Public Library
Guild Literary Complex
Urban Ministries
Oak Park Education Foundation
Frank Lloyd Wright Studio
Ernest Hemingway Foundation

Tilden Elementary
Randolph Elementary

Joplin Elementary
Haines Elementary
Percy Julian Middle School
Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School
Catherine Cook School
Kenwood Academy
River Forest School District 90

Oak Park & River Forest High School (alumni)
Northern Illinois University
Roosevelt University
Kennedy-King College
Lake Forest College
Loyola Chicago University
University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
University of Illinois at Chicago (alumni)

Media Links