Six 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, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, 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.”
Disney Theatrical Group initially developed the program for New York City elementary schools to provide underserved students with opportunities to produce musicals, selecting Nashville for its first national pilot. After two years of success in Nashville, the program has expanded to Las Vegas, Nevada; Seattle, Washington; and Orange County, California. Nashville is the first and only location to have expanded to include middle schools.
In conjunction with the news about the latest participants, Ciuffo announced that The Lion King KIDS for elementary schools and The Lion King JR. for middle schools will be available for the first time. Last year, Nashville’s Hull-Jackson Montessori Magnet School, a Disney Musicals in Schools alumnus, piloted the show as a part of the development process.
“The children learn by doing in a fun, meaningful and long-lasting way,” said Ciuffo.
All 20 Nashville participants will present a public performance at their school this spring, while TPAC will host a “Student Share” event in May 2015 to showcase the productions of those in their first year.
“Producing a Disney musical is a rich learning experience in an after-school setting. The children dig deeply into the material as they rehearse and work behind the scenes. They discover more about themselves and expand their vocabularies. They have serious discussions about the meaning of the storyline, the intent of the characters, and the settings of Disney musicals around the world. Though guided by school teams and TPAC teaching artists, much of the work is student-driven, filled with opportunities for teamwork, creativity and critical thinking. The children learn by doing in a fun, meaningful and long-lasting way,” said Ciuffo.
“They apply what they learn back in the classroom. For just one example, teachers notice marked improvement in reading skills among students engaged in a Disney musical. They‘ve shared with us that greater confidence and ability leads to more enthusiasm for reading across the curriculum,” she said.
Schools continuing with the program are in their second to fourth years of participation. They are Buena Vista Enhanced Option Elementary; Carter-Lawrence Elementary Math and Science Magnet; Eakin Elementary; Glengarry Elementary; Harris-Hillman Special Education; Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary; Hull-Jackson Montessori Magnet; I.T. Creswell Arts Magnet Middle; Julia Green Elementary; Kirkpatrick Elementary; Lakeview Elementary Design Center; Napier Enhanced Option; Norman Binkley Elementary; Park Avenue Enhanced Option; and Warner Enhanced Option Elementary.
Disney KIDS and JR. musicals, created in partnership with Musical Theater International (MTI), are 30 minutes and one hour in length, respectively. They have been adapted to be performed by young people from the classic Disney films 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Winnie the Pooh, among others.