RSS Feed

Tag Archives: TAP After-School

Back to Basics: Volunteer

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Director
The first day of school comes with so much anticipation and excitement. Reconnecting with old friends and making new friends used to make me so nervous every year. One thing I’ve noticed as an adult–many years out of the classroom–is how many people use going back to school time as a way to renew commitments. As you get back into a set routine this fall, consider adding volunteer service to Theatre Action Project to your list of must-do’s for this school year. Volunteering is a great way to get back to the basics of service, giving back and serving an inspiring mission:

Theatre Action Project uses the creative arts to activate the academic, social and emotional development of young people. Through interactive classroom performances, after school residencies and community based programs, TAP’s team of professional teaching artists inspire youth to be creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers and confident leaders in their community.

In 2011-2012, Theatre Action Project volunteers gave an average of 229 hours a month in our After School programs, at events, creating journals and crafts for our TAP in the Classroom programs, database management and social media. For our TAP Summer Camp, 22 volunteers gave over 1002 hours in just a few short weeks, assistant Teaching Artists with camps such as Songs for the Stage, Puppetpalooza, Rhythm and Drums, Playmakers, and more at several locations. What a great way to spend your summer and brighten children’s lives!

You have several volunteer options:

1) be a volunteer willing to take on a single project,

2) be “on tap” for projects as they come up, consider a more committed relationship as a TAP Volunteer Project Leader and recruit and lead your own project and TAP volunteers for specific tasks, or

3) as an After School volunteer assigned to a specific campus for the semester assisting a Teaching Artist.

If you are interested in getting back to the basics, please send us an e-mail about your volunteer interest and availability:

For TAP’s Open House on Thursday, October 4th. Learn all there is to learn about Theatre Action Project and find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you! Enjoy some food and refreshments, network, enjoy, and make new friends. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

PS: On my very first day at school as a five-year old (just before I turned six), my Mom didn’t know if the school provided lunch for us or if I needed a sack lunch. It was the best bag of grapes I’d ever eaten.

All Points Bulletin: Looking for Super 8’s

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Director

Theatre Action Project needs your help. We are searching for donations of your old Super 8 movie camera. We’re gearing up for a fun Lights, Camera, Action TAP After School program at an area school and the equipment is perfect for teaching students about specific aspects of filmmaking.

In 1967, when my older brother graduated from high school, my parent’s gift to mark his achievement, was a sleek looking Super 8. And what’s a movie camera with a neato movie screen and projector too?

With that super cool camera my brother shot scenes of his night time graduation party held in our back yard. You can see family members and friends waving over at him as they dance away at the music that was playing.  The other big memory I have, is of my bro’s Super 8 film of First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, who came to Padre Island–we grew up in Corpus Christi–to dedicate Padre as a national seashore in 1968. Watching the film of her on our beach was so exciting. This officially made us a home movies family.

Lights, Camera, Action students directs a scene.

This week’s Lights, Camera, Action TAP summer camp is a testament to the inspiration TAVE gives students to be Creative Artists, Critical Thinkers, and Confident Leaders when learning the craft of filmmaking.

Won’t you help TAP students hone their craft by donating your Super 8 camera?  Please contact us by calling 512-442-8773 or contacting, Cassie Swayze, email:

PS: Visit our website to learn more about TAP After School or about TAP Summer Camp.

Teaching Artist Reflects on School Year, Wonderful Students

by Nadia Rangel, Teaching Artist at Langford Elementary

The students at Langford Elementary are wonderful! They discussed and participated in activities that focused on being accepting of one another, and building self-esteem. Within a couple of weeks they had created a classroom community that they were proud of.

One of our projects included discussing different personality characteristics associated with various animals, and choosing one we felt most represented ourselves to turn into a mask. We had everything from an energetic, talented, and loyal bear to a friendly and sensitive rabbit. From this exercise the students:

  • Discovered similarities and differences they had with one another.
  • Discussed how they would prefer to be part of a diverse community.
  • Enjoyed being able to learn while making something fun that they could show off to their friends and family.

By the end of the year the students had worked on numerous activities. They were constantly making connections between their lives in school and at home with topics we had discussed in class. Early on in the year I discovered their love for writing. By the end of the semester they went home with a journal full of pages where they had been able to express their feelings on their home and school communities, as well as topics on bullying, and friendship.

The students at Langford Elementary are a wonderful group, and were a blast to work with. They found ways to inspire each other, and wound up becoming a very strong group of individuals.

Nadia Rangel is a Theatre Action Project (TAP) After-School K-2 teaching artist at Langford Elementary.

P.S. My favorite summer camp memory was getting to work on new projects and be creative.

TAP After School: Taking a look at our spring

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

It is hard to believe but we are only a month away from the end of our spring semester in TAP After-School. This is my fourth semester at Theatre Action Project and the busiest yet! Our Teaching Artists are wrapping up their projects, we’re gearing up to thank all our fabulous volunteers at the Open House next week, and we’re looking forward to a busy season of Summer Camp.

Four Square play ground marking design by Griffin Ramsey

One of the more exciting projects I focused on this spring is our partnership with University of Texas’ School of Public Health (UTSPH) painting playground markings at local elementary schools. The Active Play Project is taking place in schools throughout Del Valle and Bastrop ISD. Ten of our talented Teaching Artists are currently working with their campus principals, teachers, parents, and students to undertake this community-based arts project. Using stencils the TAs designed as well as ones loaned to us by UTSPH, our teachers are painting a variety of markings around their campuses.

Throughout my time at TAP I have assisted with painting a few murals; painting a playground marking is a similar yet unique process. This project required distinctive supplies: traffic marking paint, styrene stencils, and power-washing, not to mention battling wind, weather changes, and the challenges of coordinating ten professional artist-educators. Working alongside Natalie Goodnow, Caroline Reck, and Sarah Rinner, we created an efficient system for tracking each stencil. I also researched traffic marking paint companies (a skill I never imagined having!) and ordered a lot of paint. We also ordered two new styrene stencils from a local company, which I picked up on Monday. It was an exciting moment to see the beautiful, unused stencils laid out on the TAP lawn.

Final painted play ground marking

The TAs are already hard at work painting their campuses. We’re all learning valuable lessons about coordinating a large-scale community arts project. One of our teachers, Lillie Hollingsworth put it best when she said, “…it isn’t about perfection, it’s about community!” I could not agree more and cannot wait to see the finished playgrounds!

Read more about our work with the Active Play Project: CLICK HERE.

February Skill Share

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate VISTA

After School I had the pleasure to host the first Skill Share of the spring semester here at the Theatre Action Project office on February 8th. Skill Shares are an excellent opportunity for our Teaching Artists (TA’s) to share their talents with their peers. Our February Skill Share was one of our best yet!

We started the evening with Benjamin Taylor, one of our TA’s at Creedmoor Elementary in Del Valle. Ben has taken TAP’s new mission to inspire our students as creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders to heart in his classroom. In TAP After-School we call these the “4 Cs” and Ben is truly a 4C Teaching Artist. He manages to teach his kindergarten students what courageous allies and critical thinkers are; no small feat with young students. Whether they’re learning that courageous ally means “to be a good friend” or critiquing each others drawings as creative artists, they’re always using their critical thinking hats, which Ben graciously modeled for us. Read the rest of this entry

A True Courageous Leader

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

I can’t help but brag about one of our superstar courageous leader Theatre Action Project students.  When TAP Artistic Associate, Keri Boyd and I first started touring Courage in Action last year, one student, a fifth-grader at Smith Elementary at the time, blew us away. On Day 3 of Courage in Action, students engage in “simulations.” Through role play, they practice making plans and taking action to solve problems that affect their lives. The imaginary situation: a group of elementary students were trying to persuade other students to help them launch a community garden at their school. Keri and I, as “devil’s advocates” so to speak, were asking students how exactly they would take the plan, plant, and tend for this garden. One student piped up, saying “I’ll do it! I’ll plant the seeds! I’ll water the garden! And then, I can weed! I can do it all!”

I don’t know if we truly believe that a lasting transformation happens with any one person acting all by themselves, but still… We left just so wowed by her conviction, we were talking about her for weeks. Read the rest of this entry

Thanksgiving Themed Books

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate VISTA

We are gearing up for the end of the semester, final sharings, and holiday breaks in TAP After-School. There is less than one month of the Fall semester left, which is hard to believe! As TAP’s library manager, not only do I maintain our stock of storybooks, guides, and reference manuals, I also research new and exciting books. In thinking about next week’s Thanksgiving holiday I came across a few storybooks that focus on the festival’s themes of family, tradition, giving thanks, and celebrating the harvest. Here are three of my favorites: Read the rest of this entry