Orpheum Theatre & Shelby County Schools Launch Kennedy Center Partnership

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Orpheum Theatre & Shelby County Schools Launch Kennedy Center Partnership

The Orpheum Theatre has announced its acceptance, in partnership with Shelby County Schools (SCS), into the John F. Kennedy Center's Partners in Education program. Formally accepted in April, The Orpheum and SCS initiated the program in Memphis with a week of teacher professional development July 7th through 11th.

Taught by Kennedy Center teaching artists, workshops focus on how educators can take the arts into their classrooms as a means to teach all subjects more effectively. The professional development training consists of a Level 1 course and, for the first time in the Orpheum's history, an advanced Level 2 course for teachers who have previously completed 40 hours or more of teacher professional development with the Orpheum. Between the two tracks, approximately 80 local educators are registered to attend, and each track is a three-day workshop.

"The Orpheum has been in partnership with SCS for teacher professional development for over ten years," says Alice Roberts, Vice President of Education and Community Programs at The Orpheum Theatre. "However, the Kennedy Center's Partners in Education program provides national support through which the Orpheum and SCS can take teacher training in the arts to the next level."

The Partners in Education Program is a three-year renewable contract between The Kennedy Center, The Orpheum Theatre, and SCS. The Orpheum and SCS was one of 12 selected teams of arts organizations and school systems from across the nation to participate in the Partners in Education Institute, joining 93 teams from 42 states and the District of Columbia already participating in the program, now in its 23rd year.

"Shelby County Schools works diligently to integrate the arts into all facets of study, which is a key district strategy towards college and career readiness for all of our students" says Dru Davison, Chair of Arts Education for Shelby County Schools. "The Orpheum has consistently played a role in our teachers' development, and we look forward to taking this training to new heights through the Kennedy Center's nationally recognized program."

In April 2014, the Kennedy Center hosted its 13th Partners in Education Institute. During the four-day intensive, the Orpheum, in partnership with SCS, developed a plan specific to Memphis for the partners to expand its current arts-based professional development programs for teachers. The team attended performances and met with national education leaders and guest artists while at the Kennedy Center.

Acceptance into the Partners in Education program came on the heels of the groundbreaking for The Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts & Education, which, once complete, will provide the necessary resources to offer additional professional development workshops and expand the size of the classes.

"This partnership with the Kennedy Center is a terrific example of what our talented Education staff has been able to accomplish," said Orpheum President and CEO, Pat Halloran. "It's very exciting to consider how much more we'll be able to do for students and teachers once the new Orpheum Centre opens its doors."

Currently under construction, the Orpheum's $14.5 million Centre for Performing Arts & Education will offer advanced performing arts education programs to enhance the Orpheum's position as a respected national venue and allow the theatre to increase the availability of time and space to meet its primary goal of serving patrons of all ages from across the Mid-South. The Orpheum's current education initiatives serve over 65,000 students, teachers, and families per year.

To date, $11.2 million has been committed by individual, corporate, and foundation support with the remaining financial needs expected to be met prior to the Centre's opening. People and organizations wishing to donate to the Centre or purchase a personalized brick in support of the Centre's Brick Campaign should contact Leanne McQuown, Vice President of Development, at 901-529-4299 or mcquown@orpheum-memphis.com.

Educators interested in learning more about professional development training opportunities should contact Rachel Knox, Professional Development Coordinator, at 901.529.4283 or knox@orpheum-memphis.com or visit www.orpheum-memphis.com.

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