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Meet TAP’s Teaching Artists

by Elizabeth Kohout, VISTA Programs Assistant

Remember Rumpelstiltskin? He’s the strange, dwarfish creature who agrees to help the miller’s daughter spin straw into gold in exchange for her jewelry and first-born child. Things work out for the miller’s daughter, who becomes a queen, and not so well for Rumpelstiltskin, who is cheated out of his final payment once the miller’s daughter correctly guesses his name. Enraged, he gets one of literature’s great exit scenes, flying away on a cooking spoon, never to be seen or heard from again.

What does this have to do with TAP? Well, I was recently reminded of Rumpelstilskin’s ability to spin straw into gold as I watched Aron and Ignacio, two of TAP’s fabulous teaching artists (TAs), prepare for the Friday class they co-teach at Booker T. Washington, a City of Austin Housing Authority site just up the road from the TAP office. Using nothing but some cardboard scraps, a couple of box cutters, and some Elmer’s Glue, they whipped up a couple of seriously cool masks to use as examples for that day’s art project in a matter of minutes. I wish I could show you what those masks look like, but the fact of the matter is that kind of alchemy (in other words, a literal changing of straw into gold) happens so regularly at TAP that I didn’t think to take a photo

The creativity of our TAs is nothing short of astonishing. They are all artists—actors, sculptors, dancers, photographers, musicians, muralist, drummers, filmmakers, and poets— and their distinct and diverse talents are what make TAP’s after-school and in-school programming so special. Here is some more information about some of our TAs. As you’ll see, each of them is every bit as talented as Rumpelstiltskin (and infinitely better-looking, too!):

Name: Amy

Schools: Wells Branch, Wooldrige, Union Hill

Superpowers: filmmaking, directing, owning a cute dog

: Andy

Schools: Hart, Gardner-Betts

Superpowers: recruiting, directing, dealing with difficult school situations, generally being sunshine-y

Name: Aron

Schools: Barrington, Booker T Washington

Superpowers: lesson planning, building things, storytelling, responding to emails

: Ashley

Schools: Houston, Barton Creek

Superpower: teaching professionalism and dedication through dance

Name: Boone

Schools: all

Superpowers: animation, gardening, recording, subbing

Name: Christina

Schools: Bluebonnet Trail

Superpower: teaching World Theatre, giving 100%, design, interviewing, photography

Name: Emily

Schools: Oak Meadows

Superpowers: printing, drawing, poetry, sculpture

Name: Erin (not pictured)

School: Harris

Superpowers: classroom management, hearing every student’s voice


Schools: Norman, Bluebonnet

Superpowers: lesson planning, providing student-centered learning


Schools: Wooten, Booker T. Washington

Superpowers: building, bicycling, Spanish

: J

Schools: Manor New Tech, Manor MS

Superpowers: making murals, overcoming obstacles, bringing snacks to Elizabeth and Flo

: Jessica

Schools: Pecan Springs

Superpowers: drawing, being the queen of teachable moments

: Jessica

Schools: Winn, Langford

Superpowers: hitting the ground running, using students’ ideas, giving 100% every day

: Jessica

Schools: Decker Elementary, Anderson Mill

Superpowers: working with kids of all ages (especially girls), modeling respect, crafting super-creative lesson plans

: Kai

Schools: Manor HS

Superpower: filmmaking

: Katie

School: Webb MS

Superpowers: positive outlook, sense of humor, mad beanbag sewing skills

Name: Kelsey

Schools: Berkman, Bluebonnet Trail

Superpowers: creative drama, lesson planning, energy, working with K-2

Name: Lauren

School: Bluebonnet Trail

Superpowers: subbing AND teaching—yowza!

: Lindsay

Schools: Perez

Superpowers: sculpture, sewing, crafting, subbing

Name: Lucia

School: Decker MS

Superpowers: filmmaking

: McArthur

Schools: Pecan Springs, Decker

Superpowers: determination, hard work

Name: Michael

Schools: Voigt, Oak Springs

Superpowers: writing, student recognition, classroom management, working with older kids, wearing bowties

Name: Minerva

Alias: Miss Minnie

Schools: Mendez, Barton Creek, Perez

Superpowers: classroom management, being welcoming and accepting

Name: Miranda

Schools: Ridgetop, Robertson, Presidential Meadows

Superpowers: puppet-making, improv, writing, Spanish, working with K-2

Name: Nain

Schools: Houston

Superpowers: green thumb, bilingual teaching

: Naomi

School: Oak Meadows

Superpowers: flamenco, ballet folklorico, trying new things

Thanks so much to ALL of our TAs (yes, there are even more of them) for their incredible work!

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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