Van Wezel to Launch New CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS Program
The Van Wezel will be piloting a new program titled Classroom Connections, this season. The objective is to bring students from different schools together in a way that would not normally be presented to them. Through a grant from the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club, 3rd grade students from Samoset Elementary and Robert E. Willis Elementary will be able to take part in the program. Though the schools are both in Manatee County, they have little to no interaction with each other.
This program is designed to encourage dialogue and community awareness, providing a true sense of community and citizenship through the arts. Teachers from both schools have had classrooms write introductory letters to their partner classrooms in which students share information about their favorite subjects, goals for the school year, and what they are looking forward to most about attending a Van Wezel Schooltime Performance on Oct. 17th. Students from both schools will attend the 10am Schooltime Performance of The Math Maniac Show where they will sit together with their partner school. After the show, the classrooms will work with Van Wezel teaching artists for a 1 hour workshop designed to reflect on the performance and getting to know their partner class. After the Show each class will create a "partner project" (i.e. a poster, pamphlet, or video) which they will send to their partner classroom to identify what they learned from the show and about each other. The teachers hope to continue to the work throughout the year as a "nearby pen pal."
The Van Wezel's Director of Education and Community Development, Kelli Bragdon stated, "This is a unique program in that we are going beyond the meaningful content support typical of a Schooltime Performance. We are encouraging dialogue and community awareness in a way that only the arts can. These students are part of the same school district, but would normally not have the opportunity to meet. This program asks students to consider what makes them unique and also what they have in common. The arts are used a springboard for dialogue in a way that is exciting and new for the students. I am confident that the relationships forged will allow students to expand their understanding of their community and their place within it."