“School Patrol” explores TPAC Education’s TechShop for teachers

“Now that school is back in session, there are many fond memories of summer camp. But as you’ll see in this week’s School Patrol, while one of the most beloved camps didn’t attract any children, it was attended by a number of curious students.”  – Vicki Yates, NewsChannel 5



Click the video above to watch NewsChannel 5’s “School Patrol” feature on TPAC Education’s TechShop, an annual workshop on theatre production designed NOT for curious students but FOR curious teachers so they can learn about lighting design and other aspects of producing theatre in their schools.

“You go back to school inspired with some new ideas, new ice-breakers, new strategies,” teacher Gina Kelly tells Vicki Yates of NewsChannel 5, which broadcasts a weekly “School Patrol” on diverse education topics. Kelly, a teacher Overton High School, takes her students to TPAC for student performances and participates each year in the technical theatre workshop for educators.

The popular, professional development opportunity — held over three days in various TPAC spaces, on stage and backstage — offers tips and tools as the experts, from TPAC’s Tech Department and the community at large, lead sessions on lighting, scenic and costume design, choreography, and other theatrical necessities such as making a lighting “GOBO” with a .99 cent pie plate and an x-acto knife.The workshop is held over three days in various TPAC spaces, on stage and backstage.

TPAC Education and Technical Department staff in the spotlight during the two-and-a-half-minute, action-packed story included Cassie LaFevor, Bill Rios, and Jessica Costello.

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TPAC receives 2016 grant from CMA Foundation

CMA and TPAC - Main ImageCMA Foundation announced today its annual donation for music education as well as grant recipients for 2016, totaling a record $2.68 million thanks to the generosity of Country artists and fans at CMA Music Festival.

“If it weren’t for the artists, who all perform for free during CMA Music Festival, and the thousands of fans who support the event each year, these donations would not be possible,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “The CMA Foundation donates to causes that are important to our community, but every dollar is given on behalf of the artists and fans that support Music Fest each June.”

TPAC is proud to be among the 29 charitable groups receiving this generous support. The 2016 grant will go to TPAC Education and fund the organization’s Disney Musicals in Schools (DMIS) program. DMIS is a free semester-long, after-school musical theater program that inspires students and their school communities to organize around the challenging work of mounting a 30-45-minute musical production. Guided by TPAC Teaching Artists, this program utilizes active partnerships that combine school, professional, and community resources to create rich avenues for student learning while providing teachers with the training and tools needed to strengthen their arts programs. DMIS is expected to reach nearly 1,300 Metro Nashville Public Schools students in 26 elementary and middle schools this school year.

Thank you CMA Foundation!

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TPAC drafts NFL legend Eddie George as arts education advocate

EG - Red Shirt - 500 x 700

Eddie George will serve as advocate for TPAC Education. Photo by Mary L. Carter.

The nonprofit Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) announces that NFL legend, former Tennessee Titan, Heisman Memorial Trophy winner, and actor Eddie George will serve as advocate for TPAC Education, the organization’s expansive and nationally recognized education department.

George, who was honored with TPAC’s highest honor, the Applause Award, in August 2014 and joined the TPAC Board of Directors last July, will raise awareness of the need for arts education and its positive impact on educational achievement and well-being.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled at Eddie’s deep interest in how TPAC Education engages and inspires young people. Talented in his own right and a born mentor, Eddie is an excellent messenger for how someone can expand and enrich their life through participation with the arts,” said Kathleen O’Brien, TPAC president and chief executive officer. “Our goal over the next year is to get Eddie involved organically to see our various programs up close and provide him opportunities to speak with young people about accessing and celebrating their creative potential.”

As education advocate, George will work with TPAC to provide a strong voice of support for arts education, engage directly with students, teachers, and artists participating in the programs, and help the organization identify new ways to expand its efforts in reach, number of students, or with additional programs.

“When I was young, my mother made sure I was exposed to the arts, and I took ballet lessons to learn better body control when I got older. So, the arts were always a part of my life,” said George. “After my football career, the arts helped me find my voice. Now, I want to share that experience with kids and encourage them to discover their creative abilities, find their own voice, and live more well-rounded lives.”

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Q&A with Babs Rector: A teacher’s view on the value of arts education

Babs Rector - Cropped“I cannot tell you how much I grew as a teacher and a patron of the arts by participating in ArtSmart,” wrote Babs Rector on the eve of her retirement as a 5th grade teacher at Meigs Middle Magnet School. “TPAC Education has consistently offered superior professional development and stayed current with educational trends, which is a feat itself! I am so glad to have had the opportunity to be part of it.”

After teaching in three different Metro Nashville Public Schools over the course of three decades, Rector took time answer a few questions from SPOTlight about her experience with arts education. Throughout her 30-year teaching career, she was an active participant in TPAC Education’s ArtSmart, a program which blends professional development training, collaboration with teaching artists on classroom residencies, and attending performances on TPAC’s annual Season for Young People.


Q: We so appreciated your sending a note about your TPAC experience as you retired. Tell us more about your growth as a teacher and a patron of the arts after participating in TPAC Education’s ArtSmart.

Babs Rector: As a teacher, I realized that arts education helped me reach children with different learning styles. That’s important. TPAC Education also taught me to be more creative with any subject matter.  If I was teaching science, for instance, I wanted the lessons to be creative.  I wanted my students to relate to the subject.  I learned to apply and adapt ArtSmart principles in other creative ways across the curriculum. I also found that TPAC Education excels at understanding current trends in education.  The current emphasis on project-based learning (PBL) in Metro Schools is a great example of that.  Arts education is not just something ‘extra.’  TPAC provides teachers with the resources on plugging into the latest standards and requirements, across the curriculum.

Q: Describe the impact of ArtSmart in your life, both personally and professionally.

BR: For me, in the beginning, the ArtSmart Institutes helped me to define different ways to look at different works of art. Personally, that exposed me to a variety of art forms, from modern dance to visual arts. I’d choose one focus for the classroom from the different options.  After I was introduced to them, however, I was likely to attend a performance or go to Cheekwood to see the sculptures. I also benefitted from working directly with professional artists — actors, musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors and others. Their perspectives were not something I had ever experienced personally. To work closely with the artists gave me so many different ideas on how to work with students.  And then, I did something that is so critical to the student experience and collaborated with the teaching artists. We brainstormed ideas for each ArtSmart unit in the classroom.  We came up with unique ideas for student learning and we came up with them together.  That helped me with professional development in other areas, especially collaborations with other teachers.

Q: The training and teaching artist residencies culminate with a field trip to TPAC for a performance or to another place to view visual art.  How was that beneficial to classroom learning?

BR: First of all, TPAC’s performances or ArtSmart works of visual art relate directly to various subjects. Going to a performance at TPAC?  You cannot even begin to tap into the depth of what those performances have to offer.  The quality of the shows is always top-notch. The highlights of going to TPAC were seeing how the students reacted during the performance or talked about it after the experience because they had experienced something similar in the classroom. Clearly, they connected with the live performance and it reinforced what they’d learned.  One example: Before we saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream we experimented with talking in couplets and explored how difficult it is to come up with something with that pattern of rhyme. We talked about the names of the characters.  Why would Shakespeare choose those names?  This play is not something that students would normally study in the 5th grade. ArtSmart helped them to connect to the work of art and give them an early introduction to William Shakespeare in a way that was relevant to them at their age.

Q: What kind of impact did you see in the lives and learning of your students?

BR: When we focused on the plays, for example, we did a lot of work with writing, including crafting short skits. I saw so much development and creativity when we did those activities.  Some of the students, who were perhaps not so academically talented, really shined when they acted out a skit.  When they performed a theatrical piece, let’s say, they were very witty and creative. They had a chance to shine in a different way.

Q:  Any parting words?

BR: I wish that every teacher, every student, had more opportunities in arts education.  I firmly believe that the arts are vital to a well-rounded education. I believe that the arts open doors for children. TPAC Education provides opportunities that many children do not otherwise experience in their young lives. When they see a play or study a work of visual art, it helps them to work through some of their own challenges and problems.  As a teacher, it’s been very rewarding to see how the arts draw out the creativity and ability of all children regardless of their cultural and economic circumstance. Kids need this experience. The arts enrich their lives.  At the same time they enjoy the arts activities and performances, they work out some things that are very tough in life.

Click here to learn more about ArtSmart and TPAC Education’s other programs.

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Country duo Maddie & Tae to host Disney Musicals in Schools “Student Share” on May 14 at TPAC


Disney Musicals in Schools #StudentShare will be held at TPAC on May 14.

The Disney Musicals in Schools “student share” event will be more magical than ever when Maddie & Tae, country music’s breakaway hit duo, host the special showcase event in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall on Thursday, May 14.

Over the past year, more than 1,100 students across 20 Metro schools have been rehearsing and staging their own shows through TPAC Education’s Disney Musicals in Schools TPAC-Nashville, sponsored by the CMA Foundation.

The rapidly rising stars will interact with children from Metro Nashville Public Schools who will perform songs from their Disney musicals in full costume on the TPAC stage. The artists and representatives from the CMA Foundation, Disney, and TPAC will be available for interviews beginning at 10 a.m. and after the performance which begins at 10:30.

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Play for students explores change, personal loss

Respect for the intelligence and sophistication of students attending TPAC Education performances is “square one” for Sherri Leathers as she builds the annual “Season for Young People.” That consideration, especially, came into play – along with quality and connections to curriculum – when Walking the Tightrope was selected for the 2014-15 student season. The critically acclaimed play by Mike Kenny…

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Antioch students enjoy arts from kitchen to stage

Through March, students from Antioch High School will experience two very different opportunities in the arts with TPAC Education. Theatre arts and culinary arts, that is. In conjunction with the tour of PIPPIN, TPAC Education received a grant from the Broadway League (the industry trade association) to explore the history and themes of the Tony Award-winning revival. Thirty theatre students…

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CMA Foundation to support Disney Musicals in Schools for second year

CMA Foundation logoThe CMA Foundation recently announced $1.6 million in grants for music education programs in 2015, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center is proud to share that it made the list.

With the foundation’s support for a second year, 20 Metro Nashville Public Schools will produce a Disney Kids or JR. musical this year. That is FOUR TIMES the number served by the program since TPAC Education and Metro Schools were selected by Disney Theatrical Group in 2011 for its first pilot outside of New York City.

Here’s more on DMIS:

Tennessee Performing Arts Center: Supporting TPAC’s after school program, Disney Musicals in Schools, which will engage students in 20 Metro Nashville Public Schools. Now in its fourth year, the local program was Disney’s first in-school outreach project outside of New York City and is the only program working with both elementary and middle schools. At the end of this academic year, 27 percent of Metro Nashville’s elementary schools will have produced a musical, engaging up to 1,200 students, 130 educators, 600 volunteers, and 12 teaching artists. At no cost to them, the schools receive a performance license for the Disney KIDS or JR. Musical of their choice, comprehensive resource materials, and in-school support from TPAC Teaching Artists.

For more about the generous donations CMA Foundation announced for 13 charitable organizations nationwide, click here.


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Workshops aid teachers in engaging students

Through Humanities Outreach in Tennessee (HOT), an annual season of diverse performances, TPAC Education has brought learning to life for students across the state for more than 20 years. But did you know TPAC Education offers free workshops for teachers as well? Just like the eclectic mix on TPAC’s public calendar, the HOT season includes a blend of cutting-edge contemporary work and…

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Six Metro Schools Added for TPAC’s Disney Musicals in Schools Program

Six more Metro Nashville Public Schools have been selected to participate in Disney Musicals in Schools, an extracurricular program that complements classroom learning goals. The additional schools are Andrew Jackson Elementary, Gower Elementary, Hickman Elementary, and Old Center Elementary; and William Henry Oliver Middle and Wright Middle schools.

Sponsored locally by the CMA Foundation, the collaboration between Disney Theatrical Group, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, TPAC Education, and Metro Schools will serve a total of 20 elementary and middle schools this academic year. At no cost to them, they receive a performance license for the Disney KIDS or Disney JR. Musical of their choice, along with comprehensive resource materials and in-school support from TPAC’s professional teaching artists.

“The program gets more exciting for us every year. Our goal is to eventually serve 100 percent of the elementary and middle schools in Metro Nashville,” said Roberta Ciuffo, TPAC’s Executive Vice President for Education and Outreach. “Disney Theatrical Group has given TPAC and Nashville an extraordinary opportunity. We’re extremely proud of the incredible work we’ve seen in Metro Schools and grateful to Disney and the CMA Foundation for the support that allows this program to continue.”

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