by Anita Aston, Development Director
Today, Chelsea Gilman, Business and Development Associate at Theatre Action Project and I hosted Seton Hospital’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Outreach to Day 3 of Courage to Stand at Gullett Elementary.
Courage to Stand is always a moving experience and Day 3 is particularly affecting, but today was the first day I’d ever seen the program performed for 5th graders. Watching the students involve themselves so totally and the teaching artists, Aron Taylor and Natalie Holmes, engage them so completely reminded me how uniquely engaging the production is. It brought me back to the first time I came to see the program when I was still considering this job and TAP was still considering me.
I spent a Wednesday morning at Widen Elementary in southeast Austin back in the fall, hoping that I was going to see a programming strong enough that I would feel good about raising money on its behalf. There are a lot of great ideas floating around in the world of arts education and supplementary programming…
Not all of it works.
There is a complicated formula of factors involved in the successful engagement of young people. Pre-adolescents come with their own unique slate of challenges. The alchemy that combines teaching talent, curricular excellence, well-designed materials and setting into a transformative experience is difficult and uncommonly achieved, but TAP teaching artists have created this magic every time I’ve seen them attempt it. That first day back in the fall, I was amazed. Over several Day 3’s since, I’d started to take it a little bit for granted.
But these 5th graders, who seemed so much TALLER than the 4th graders we usually see — and so much OLDER — were every bit as excited about being cast as fishermen and a bakers as the kids at Widen.
I’m sure I’ll get blasé about it again, but awesomeness is a pretty cool thing to take for granted.