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Category Archives: TAP in the Classroom

Mr. Chad’s Amazing Students

by Chad Dike, Teaching Artist at Widen Elementary School

I thought my last blog of my first year teaching for Theatre Action Project (TAP) would be best used to showcase my amazing students. Here is a story my Pre-K created in class.

Once upon a time there was a normal Pre-K Class.

And every day they drew on each other and painted Mr. Chad.

Until one day the school fell down because of a tornado.

And because of that the students turned into little tornadoes.

Until they got stuck in a tree

Then they had to jump down and the sky fell on top of them.  And because of that they decided to listen to their teacher and only draw on paper

And then they had a party, did the peanut butter jelly dance, and had cake!

Chad is a first year Teaching Artist for TAP and is finishing the school year at Widen Elementary in Austin.

Courageous Leaders Start Successful Clubs in Gullet Elementary

We are so proud of the courageous leaders of Gullet Elementary School. After Courage in Action, a four-day residency with Theatre Action Project visited Gullett’s 5th graders about a month ago, the students formed two clubs which continued meeting independently: The Hunger Helpers and SAAT (Stop Animal Abuse Team).

The Hunger Helpers launched a highly successful food drive and SAAT is about to launch a pet food and supply drive. And that’s just the beginning. SAAT in particular has big plans for the future. Check out the photo gallery below to see what they and the Hunger Helpers have been up to, and what they’re planning next.

A favorite excerpt from a letter one of our courageous leaders wrote to her principal after our 4-day program:

“We are looking for homes for [Lou, the cat we found], and I am sure there are plenty of people who will love him/her, and he/she would be a great family cat. But I am not [writing you] looking for homes [for Lou today]. I am looking for help for other animals in Lou’s name. (He didn’t die, I am just wanting to do it for him), so I was wondering if we could have and animal food drive. I mean, we have people food drives, why not some for animals, too?
I also want to make a difference. I can. It doesn’t matter your age. I am a kid, but I am NOT just going to sit around waiting for adults to make the difference for me. Because guess who is going to be the adult tomorrow? Me. So why wait? People will listen. Animals have a voice. We just need to listen and help. And I want to help because I hear the plea. I will keep trying, and never give up. I CAN make the world a better place, and I will. I will start small. I hope you take this into consideration!”

To learn more about Courage in Action, visit us at and get inspired!

April Highlights at Theatre Action Project

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble member Colton Gillum wrote “Dealing with Middle School Bullies.” The story was developed by Youth Radio for National Public Radio.

This photo shows Colton in a photo by Theatre Action Project.



Jessie Norriss, our wonderful jack of all trades and former Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble member, received the TAP Champion Volunteer Award. For a list of all of this year’s volunteer award winners who attended TAP’s Spring Open House in April, visit our Facebook photo page.


Happiness is creating a lantern with TAP at Art City Austin Fine Arts Festival. The lanterns were created for the Light/Holocaust project which concluded with a presentation on April 19 at the Dell Jewish Community Center. Theatre Action Project was one of many community partners collaboration on projects with Ballet Austin.

In April The Weinstin Company and Theatre Action Project presented a free screening of the documentary Bully by Lee Hirsch.  This shows the panel discussion and Q&A with Summor Elliott with Dr. Rebecca Bigler, Professor of Psychology, University of Texas, Mel Waxler, General Counsel with the Austin Independent School District and TAP staff and students. Join the conversation about the film and bullying by clicking here.

A Bid Farewell

by Emily Watkins, Account Executive, Texas Tower PR

Over the past two years, Theatre Action Project (TAP) has opened to my eyes to a world of creativity. It has been a magical world of Ferdinand the Bull, country fairs, Swimmy, lanterns, cookies, Sara Hickman and of course cupcakes. Behind the events and social media, it has been wonderful watching TAP change Austin’s perspective on the power of arts education.

The biggest thing I have taken away from TAP is that through the arts we can educate our youngsters on important topics that are not easy to talk about, such as bullying. Recently bullying has been a topic of discussion and national issue, however TAP has been fighting against bullying all along with arts programs. TAP has been making an impact on bullying, and the statistics can prove it.

Courage to Stand

In the Courage to Stand program, 91% of responding teachers said that they had seen an increase in students sticking up for other students when confronted with issues of bullying since viewing the CTS program.

In Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble, 59% percent of audience respondents report that the program helped them speak up when they see abusive or harassing behavior.

The Heroes/Los Heroes

In The Heroes/Los Heroes program, 72% of reporting teachers saw an increase in students engaging in a 4-step conflict resolution process since viewing the Heroes program.

I am sad to be leaving TAP, but I am thankful for the opportunity I had to work along side such generous and kind people. I am not going too far and plan on helping TAP continue their good work in any way I can.  They can’t get rid of me that easily!

With her transition to a new position with Texas Tower PR, we take the opportunity to say thank you to Emily and her devotion to TAP. We are most grateful for our partnership with Tower PR and their hard-working team which helps to expand TAP’s outreach and fulfill its mission.

Memories Worth Remembering

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

I love getting thank-you letters from students, especially when they are unsolicited. It really does mean very, very much to me, and I keep them all. Most are on bulletin boards by my desk, to remind me what I’m working for even when I’m not in the classroom or on a school campus. In my (almost) five years of working with youth with Theatre Action Project, however, I think this is the best thank you letter I’ve ever received. It was addressed to Keri Boyd and me, from a student at Redeemer Lutheran in our Courage in Action TAP in the Classroom program.

The text reads:
Dear Agents 89 & 11, 
Thank you so much for coming and showing me what it means to be a courageous leader. It will come in handy to know how to
speak up for what I need to. The best part was getting to play and laugh at the same time while learning. Y’all have made the courage inside of me very strong. The truth is that before y’all came I didn’t know what I wanted to be but now I know exactly what I want to be. I promise I will try to always be a courageous leader. Once again thank y’all so much. Y’all are the best.
Sincerely, Angela R.

Thank You message from above

Agents 89 and 11 are the main characters in the Courage in Action program who lead students through a story inspiring them to be courageous leaders

Reel Change Film Frenzy

by Karen LaShelle, Executive and Artistic Director

Please join us this Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar for the Reel Change Film Frenzy!

Theatre Action Project has been chosen as a nonprofit to participate in the Lights. Camera. Help. 2012 Reel Change Film Frenzy! We will work with a filmmaker this entire upcoming weekend and on Sunday, January 15th at 7 p.m. our film will show at the Alamo Drafthouse as part of the contest.

Their will be an audience favorite and whichever nonprofit has the most presence will likely win! Please spread the word to other TAP supporters and come out to see this awesome film frenzy!



Spring Teaching Artist Training

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

I hope that 2012 has gotten off to a great start for all of our friends and communities.  I’m celebrating the fantastic team of teaching artists that give their time and energy and talent to Theatre Action Project‘s mission and impact the lives of so many youth.  We are welcoming new teaching artists to our ranks this semester, and this week we are busy getting ready for spring with our in-depth January training.  The TAP after school team has made some improvements to our toolbox and evaluation efforts which we were anxious to share.  We have over fifty teaching artists committed to our central Texas schools this spring.  I couldn’t believe it so I had to take a picture, though not every teaching artist is shown here.  Happy New Year!