Thursday, September 24, 2015

Compliment: From the Principal!

"Thank you so much!  This synopsis is well-beyond anything I could have provided.  This is very thorough and easy to understand.  Thank you so much for making this process and simple as possible for our school staff.  And I LOVE the way you have blended the 7 Habits into the project!  Bravo!

Allison Buckner
Virginia Cross Elementary
Siler City, NC

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pilot Year of the Chatham Artists-in-Schools Initiative

Chatham County Commissioners’ Meeting
21 September 2015  |  6:00PM
Historic Courthouse, Pittsboro
Public Input Remarks

My name is Cheryl Chamblee, and I'm the Executive Director of the Chatham Arts Council.  In June, you made an investment in educational impact through the arts.  

Chatham County dollars will be helping fund our Pilot Year of the Chatham Artists-in-Schools Initiative.  In this pilot year, we plan to work with North Chatham Elementary in Pittsboro and Virginia Cross Elementary in Siler City to bring theatre artists into fourth and fifth grade classrooms to create new pathways to learning history, writing, and language.

I’m here tonight to say thank you--and to let you know how it’s going so far.  A quick quarterly report on your investment.

First, some awesome news:  You have already doubled your investment.  We got word two weeks ago that the North Carolina Arts Council is granting us $29,489.  To get those State dollars, a match is required.  Thanks to you, we have the match.  Funding competition was intense this year with 40% more applicants than in previous years, but the panel was impressed with our organization, our partnerships, and what we could bring to the table.

And that’s not even what’s had me walking on air for the past two weeks.  I wish you all could have been with us recently at Virginia Cross Elementary to hear the first planning session between Principal Allison Buckner and nationally known theatre artists David zum Brunnen and Serena Ebhardt.  We’re talking about a student population that is 70% Hispanic, 90% on free or reduced lunch, and struggling to perform at grade level.  This residency can be a new way in to history and language learning for these kids.  Principal Buckner is so very excited for these kids to get this opportunity--one that is otherwise out of reach for most of them.

This Friday, I get to be part of a similar kick-off meeting at North Chatham Elementary, and I expect to leave just as uplifted.

We’re excited that we’re working with schools in both the east and west of the County, that we’re funding these residencies without placing an additional burden on classroom teachers to come up with dollars, that we’re getting huge enthusiasm from all our partners--Chatham County Schools, Chatham Park, individuals, and small businesses.
I can’t wait to see this unfold and grow.  Thank you for being a part of this team to help fill a gap for Chatham County students.

Cheryl Chamblee
Executive Director
Chatham Arts Council
919.542.0394 office . 919.280.9040 mobile

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bringing Performing Artists into Chatham County Elementary Schools

September 15, 201
Bringing Performing Artists into Chatham County Elementary Schools
PITTSBORO, NC -- Imagine if Jackie Robinson, the all-star African-American baseball player, were still alive and able to share his first-hand account of how he pushed the color barrier in America. Would we see the courage in his gait? Hear the lilt of frustration in his voice?  
Some Chatham County students will have the opportunity to experience what life might have been like for the record-setting player when acclaimed actor and playwright Mike Wiley springs to life as Jackie Robinson at North Chatham Elementary School in his one-man production of Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart. 
“My work finds its heart in the stories that have shaped American history and cultures,” said Wiley, also a Chatham County resident. “I’m proud to play, live and finally work here where my roots can take hold and make a difference.” 
This performance is part of two artist-in-residence pilot programs at Chatham County Schools in partnership with the Chatham Arts Council. Wiley will also provide active hands-on introduction to the world of creative writing, storytelling, and dramatic interpretation that directly tie to academic goals. He will offer a professional development teacher workshop, two matinee student performances, and four days of student workshops.
The second residency will occur at Virginia Cross Elementary School this Fall when professional performing artists Serena Ebhardt and David zum Brunnen, also Chatham County residents, lead a program with fifth graders that bolsters core curriculum. Through journalistic interviews, students will create a script they will produce into a school-wide theatrical production complete with music, art and technology.  
“As Chatham County citizens for over twenty years, David and I are thrilled to be contributing to Chatham Arts Council’s Pilot Year Artists-in-Schools Initiative,” Ebhardt said. “We hope that the work we do with students reaches beyond the classroom and creates connections between younger and older generations. It is not just about Arts-In-Education. It is about promoting integrity, self-discovery and the positive transformation of communities through our schools.”
The two artist-in-residence programs were funded by grants from the North Carolina Arts Council with matching funds provided by the Chatham County Commissioners, and managed by the Chatham Arts Council. Chatham County School teachers and administration collaborated with the Chatham Arts Council on the grant proposals to apply for the NCAC school residencies. The intent is to extend residencies like these to different Chatham County Schools each year.
“Chatham County Schools are incredibly fortunate to have such a resource in Chatham Arts Council,” said Lori Carlin, Chatham County Schools Public Information Officer and Arts Coordinator. “Having a community partner organization that lists ‘educating kids through the arts’ as a guiding principle serves to enrich our students and community alike. The artist-in-residence opportunities will support and enhance instruction in a new and exciting way for the teachers and students involved.”
These residencies buttress teachers and curricula across Chatham County. The initiative is designed to assist with the arts integration and arts exposure components of North Carolina’s Comprehensive Arts Education Plan which includes three parts: (1) Arts Education where the arts are taught as  core, academic subjects. (2) Arts Integration where the arts are used as a catalyst for learning across the curriculum. (3) Arts Exposure where arts experiences are presented by professional artists.

Virginia Cross Elementary School Artist-In-Residence Program with Performing Artists Serena Ebhardt and David zum Brunnen.

EbzB Productions’ Serena Ebhardt and David zum Brunnen’s mission is to develop theatrical works that promote integrity, self-discovery and positive transformation of individuals, artists, audiences and communities.  
The residency with 5th graders at Virginia Cross Elementary School begins by teaching students journalistic interview skills where students will interview an adult two generations older. The primary interview question is determined by school faculty to integrate with core curriculum lesson plans. Responses to this interview will be transcribed by students and edited into a script. Students will then rehearse and produce a theatrical performance using the script they created. Music, art, and technology will be integrated into a school-wide community performance, with the assistance of the Virginia Cross Elementary School faculty. 
Actor, producer, director, David zum Brunnen has appeared in roles on stage, in films, commercials and videos—coast to coast—in the US and Canada.  His portrayal of Charles Dickens in The Night Before Christmas Carol has now been seen by millions on public television. Additionally, public television audiences have seen him in the national broadcast of EbzB’s War Bonds: The Songs & Letters of WWII, and as a frequent spokesperson with UNC-TV in North Carolina. 
Serena Ebhardt is an award-winning actress, director, playwright and teaching artist. She holds her B.A. in Dramatic Art from the University of North Carolina and received training as a teaching artist from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Lincoln Center Institute, and The National Center for Creative Aging. Ebhardt’s direction includes world premieres and national tours including Nnenna Freelon’s The Clothesline Muse, Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name, EbzB Productions’ Brown v. Board of EducationLife Is So Good by George Dawson, and Mike Wiley Productions’ Dar He: The Lynching of Emmet Till
North Chatham Elementary School Artist-In-Residence Program with Acclaimed Actor and Playwright Mike Wiley.
Mike Wiley has spent more than a decade fulfilling his mission to bring educational, documentary theater to young audiences and communities across the country. Through his work, countless students have been introduced to the stories and legacies of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Henry “Box” Brown, The Freedom Riders and more. As part of NC Art Council’s “cARTwheels” program, Mike Wiley will present his acclaimed one-man production of Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart at North Chatham Elementary School. This residency is an active hands-on introduction to the world of creative writing, storytelling, and dramatic interpretation. The residency features a teachers’ professional development workshop, two matinee student performances and four days of student workshops.
Beginning with Mr. Wiley’s live performance of the play Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart, audiences will experience a powerful lesson of courage through the dedication and leadership of African-American athletes who pushed the color barrier to its breaking point. The play provides a glimpse of Robinson’s life during a bygone era of separate and unequal locker rooms, of whites-only hotels, and of restaurants with only a back door for “colored” athletes to enter. Students witness the hopeless humiliation of a star player who was showered with adulation on the field and became a second-hand citizen when he walked off the the diamond. They meet Jackie’s compatriots fighting the same battles between the end zones, inside the ring and around the track. Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart is a powerful lesson of courage through dedication, perseverance and leadership. The play intrigues, educates and sets one’s thirst for success on fire. Robinson: A Game Apart is a powerful lesson of courage through dedication, perseverance and leadership. The play intrigues, educates and sets one’s thirst for success on fire. 
During the residency following the performance, Mr. Wiley will guide students through various aspects of creative writing, storytelling and poetry. Film footage, oral histories, newspapers, diaries, letters and other archival sources will furnish raw materials for writing that speaks to histories larger than ourselves. The goal is to give students the tools to improve their writing skills, engage audiences with social commentary, rich civil rights history and diversity awareness. 
Mike Wiley is the 2010/2014 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and UNC-Chapel Hill. Wiley has been named the News and Observer’s “Tar Heel of the Week,” profiled in Our State magazine, spotlighted on UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Now” and North Carolina Public Radio’s “The State of Things.” He was named the 2012 Indie Artist of the Year by the Independent Weekly.

Contact: Cheryl Chamblee, Executive Director of the Chatham Arts Council, cheryl@chathamartscouncil.orgwww.chathamartscouncil.org919.542.0394