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We Spied Pie!

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Director

Congratulations Judges Favorite Award Winner – Madison Street Desserts and  their Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

It was a fun and successful day at I Spy Pie!, our fun fall fundraiser, at Central Market. We rocked it with so many pie fans supporting Creative Action who purchased pie tasting cards that gave them a chance to sample 10 delicious pies presented by our five bakery participants: Tiny Pies, Texas Pie Kitchen, Central Market Cooking School, Central Market Bakery and Madison Street Desserts. Many thanks our wonderful MC Shana Merlin and to the fun music from Biscuit Brothers and Jungle Jill and the Jaybirds.

Thank you to our sponsors: Do512 Family, Central Market, H-E-B, Austin City Limits, Austin Family Fun, Fun, Fun Fest, Madison Street Desserts, Peace Through Pie, Texas Pie Kitchen Tiny Pies, Trace, and Trophyology.

Congratulations People’s Choice Award Winner – Tiny Pies and  Bourbon and their Buttermilk Chess pie

Pie judges (l-r) Jim Swift, Nina Seely, and John Bullington. Not pictured, Virginia B. Wood.

Big THANKS to all volunteers for making this a fun and smoothly-run event: Corinna  Archer, Pam Archer, Texas Tower PR, Racimony Hun, Lauren Luscombe, John Green, Karen Vinson, 4-H Capital, Austin Community College, ACE: A Community for Education, Austin Kiwanis Young Professionals, Bank of America, Chi Beta Delta, CMC eBiz, Dell | Global Communications, Diversys Learning, Dun & Bradstreet, East Avenue Lounge, Hire Priority Staffing, Longhorn Outreach, Texas Longhorn National Residence Hall Honorary, Real Role Models, St. Edward’s University, Stony Point High School, Sustainable Food Center, Tau Beta Pi, Texas Alpha Phi Omega, Texas Zephyrs, UT Austin, The Long Center, Tickled Ivories, Texas Longhorn Chapter- UT Austin, Westwood High School, Women in Medicine-UT Austin, Ann Graham, Susan Kirr, and Amy Averett, Carol Park Acurso, Alicia Santana and so many more wonderful individuals who made paper bag hats, served up pie, wrote pie poems, ran our parachute game and pie walk, painted faces, and made crafted kid-sized aprons. Thank you!

Ready to relive all the fun pie memories?
Check out our Facebook and Flickr albums. What was your favorite part of I Spy Pie!?

New Children’s Books for New World Kids

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

Earlier this month Sarah Rinner, our Elementary Program Director, shared some exciting news about our New World Kids (NWK) curricula. NWK engages children with the creative thinking process by exploring the Sensory Alphabet, including:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Rhythm
  • Space
  • Color, and more

The addition of New World Kids to our Afterschool programs meant we were able to add a lot of new children’s books to the Creative Action library. Here are a few of my favorites:

Color Zoo, Lois Ehlert explores shape by using animals’ faces constructed out of triangles, rectangles, squares, and circle cutouts. Flipping through the pages of this clever storybook a bear face morphs into a lion; a lion becomes a rabbit; and a rabbit transforms into a mouse.


Lines that Wiggle, Candace Whitman explores line by following a glittery line through various escapades like the wavy lines of an octopus’ arms; the lines that sprout a seed; and rainbow lines that are way up high.


My Friends/Mis Amigos, Taro Gomi explores movement by following the adventures of an adorable little girl who likes to walk like her favorite animals. She climbs trees like her friend the monkey; kicks like her friend the gorilla; explores the earth like an ant; and studies like her friends the teachers.



In other Afterschool news, today is Lights on Afterschool! Lights on Afterschool is a nationwide celebration designed to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America’s children, families and communities.

P.S. My favorite type of pie is strawberry rhubarb.

Join us at I Spy Pie! on Saturday, October 20th at Central Market North. 12 – 3 p.m.
Family fun, arts and crafts and pie for families of all ages!


New World Kids Engages Children with Creative Thinking

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

Creative Action is implementing a new class into our programming, New World Kids.  We were fortunate to work with the creators of this program in August where 16 of our teaching artists were trained on the New World Kids (NWK) curriculum for 4 – 6 year olds.  NWK engages children with the creative thinking process by exploring the Sensory Alphabet, including:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Rhythm
  • Space
  • Color, and more.

The program helps develop students’ skills in symbolizing, understanding and communicating ideas through various art and digital media. Throughout the program, our teaching artists document students’ creative works and share their discoveries with parents during a final exhibition of art.  This program is being offered to the Gullett Elementary pre-K students as part of our larger afterschool program, as well as a few other pre-K afterschool classes at AISD campuses.

P.S. Today, my favorite kind of pie is homemade apple pie, warm out of the oven.

Join us at I Spy Pie! on Saturday, October 20th at Central Market North. 12 – 3 p.m.
Family fun, arts and crafts and pie for families of all ages!

Want to volunteer? Sign up here for 1 or 2 (or both) shifts:  I Spy Pie! Volunteer Sign Up.

The Creative Action Proclamation

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

Teaching artists drawing their ideal “Creative Action island”

At our after school teaching artist training this year we put the creative imaginations of our staff to work in exploring the world of Creative Action and what it means to our community.

Our amazing group of over 55 teaching and administrative staff worked in small groups to create Creative Action Islands that encompasses our actions and values and communicates the culture of our organization. (And crammed into the Ruiz Library, it was positively overwhelming to have such a large team of dedicated people!)

My favorite, and most meaningful, part of the activity was our Creative Action Proclamation. We had each group contribute a line to our proclamation and we read it aloud to close out our day together.

Here are a few lines of the Creative Action Proclamation:

We hereby declare that the inhabitants of the Creative Action Island have come together for the purpose of… 

Being happy; relaxing; exploring and having adventures; making their imagination world reality; destroying boredom; making stuff; and expressing themselves,

With the intention of allowing everyone to live their best life,

Therefore we shall explore and have adventures, dance, smile,

So that our community can create without boundaries,

Furthermore on our island, we shall eat Family Style at a large table,

So that our land can be a place where creative expression reigns free and social change & creative action can come to be,

And with this purpose we transform our communities in positive and creative ways,

In order to inspire the flow of creative energy among a generation of youth, we model the behavior and attitude we hope to instill in our students,

To conclude, our island shall be a place where everyone is free to be creative without limit of judgment. There are an infinite number of resources of varying types to facilitate creativity and art. It is an island where people are made well through creating and receiving art!

P.S. My favorite pie flavor is apple pie.
Join us at I Spy Pie! on Saturday, October 20th at Central Market North. 12 – 3 p.m.
Family fun, arts and crafts and pie for families of all ages!

Want to volunteer? Sign up here for 1 or 2 (or both) shifts:  I Spy Pie! Volunteer Sign Up.

Changing the Lives of Future Generations

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

Over the past six weeks I’ve had the great privilege of working with Maria Cruz, a senior (the first graduating class) from the Ann Richards School For Young Women Leaders for a special summer internship. Theatre Action Project (TAP) is working with mindPOP for part of their new Fellowship program, where ten amazing high schoolers from Ann Richards and McCallum High School were partnered with arts organizations to share skills and knowledge in an intense and highly individualized experience.

Maria worked on various projects with us, including:

  • Assisting our teaching staff in camp and community projects
  • Rebuilding our World Theatre curriculum
  • Creating a new system for our summer camp archives.

She also got a chance to sit down with many of our TAP staff to learn how each of our roles play an important part in the growth of our organization. I asked Maria:

What is your biggest takeaway from this fellowship?

While interning at TAP I discovered new skills in my persona. Throughout the six weeks, I have taken away the necessary skills that will definitely help me take my decisions in the future. Skills such as:

  • Becoming a well prepared teaching artist. Many of the teachers I worked with me are well prepared, full of creative ideas, and inspiration to work with the youth.  Not to mention how extremely talented they must be to undergo from what I’ve heard “a very thorough” application process.
  • I have learned the dos and don’ts of administrative work. From the importance of organization to the responsibility it takes to complete assignments diligently.

In all, everything that TAP does is a huge takeaway for everyone. The work they do with the community, and schools is extraordinary, not to mention the impact they make on interns like me.

How has your experience with TAP inspired you?

My experience in TAP has inspired me to become active after college, as well as gave me a direction to follow after graduating. Prior to TAP, I was  skeptical about a career in the arts. However, TAP gave me the chance to be exactly sure what I would one day pursue. TAP has opened my eyes to new opportunities, as it gave me an insight of how a non-profit organization works. It expanded my vision of helping kids who are less fortunate grow into strong leaders that exemplify the 4 C’s. Like TAP, I too will change the lives of future generations in my community and worldwide.

P.S. My first day of school I wore a pretty yellow dress.

Wrapping up the Active Play Project

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

TAP TA Kate Shaw guiding Creedmoor students

This year Theatre Action Project (TAP) embraced a new project in partnership with the University of Texas School of Public Health and funding support from St. David’s Foundation.  Our afterschool programs have always been active and artsy, but this project was a new intentional way for us to bring those two engaging elements together in the Bastrop and Del Valle communities.

The Active Play Project is a program that promotes student health by painting markings around the school playgrounds and sidewalks that facilitate physical activity and connect to academic learning.  TAP’s team of amazing Project Leaders led their afterschool youth in generating the marking designs, convening an action team of school personnel to support the project, and coordinating community painting days in April and May.  The 10-campus project was hugely successful, and students are already proudly sharing their paintings and how to interact with them with their peers and families.  We look forward to seeing the benefits of this engaging project for years to come.

The Active Play KXAN news article can be found here.

P.S. My favorite camp memory was playing Queen Bidgood in a dramatization of “King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub” during an art and drama camp at the school where my dad taught. My dad had gotten a real bathtub for us to use in acting out the play–hauled it into the art room and everything

Expanding Youth Engagement

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

It’s official! I am proud to say I have passed my certification as a Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Methods Trainer! Two weeks ago I spent three exhausting but exciting days being trained to facilitate workshops for program staff which will allow me to train our Theatre Action Project teaching artists directly in specific components of high quality youth engagement. The trainings focus on a variety of best practices for youth leaders in after school: active learning, reframing conflict, and youth voice are a few examples. I will also lead a few workshops throughout the year for other after school organizations in the community. TAP has been actively participating in the YPQ initiative with the Central Texas Afterschool Network, and I’m thrilled that we will be able to provide more training opportunities to our teaching artists working in the after school community.