In 2021, JumpStart Theatre schools faced the same fundamental challenge as other educational theatre programs — making theatre happen in an ongoing pandemic. But JumpStart Theatre schools aren’t like other programs: The 39 participating schools are part of ETF’s flagship program to build sustainable theatre programs in middle schools where there previously were none.
Here’s how it works: Six regional theatre partners administer JumpStart Theatre in 10 states. After a rigorous application process, schools make a three-year commitment. Thanks to partners iTheatrics and Music Theatre International, each school receives $12,000 worth of services, training, mentoring, and support annually to produce a full-scale show for their community. JumpStart Theatre also provides teacher stipends and modest budgets for sets and costumes. Students are involved in every aspect of the production: performance, costumes, sets, technical support, and design.
Some highlights from the year:
Because of the pandemic disruptions, 2020-21 was treated as a “bonus” year — schools that were in their third year wouldn’t graduate until after the 2021-22 school year.
Both students and teachers carry the impact of JumpStart Theatre well beyond the stage. Take a look at what participants have to say:
“We certainly are proud that we made the best of ever-changing schedules and learning models and kept moving forward. Just having the push to get our students engaged in the virtual toolkit experience opened doors that we know will start us off on the right path for 2022.”
— Jaime Vandergrift, Flat Rock Middle School Teacher, Atlanta
“This program has actually helped me as a teacher to be more outgoing. When I first started, I was actually quite shy. I learned to not take myself too seriously, and to actually have fun. This is a concept I will take with me into next year as I am preparing the drama students for their production.”
— Mrs. Keith-Dixon, Pointe South Middle School Teacher, Atlanta
“This is probably the most comfortable I’ve been in any class for a pretty long time. It’s even helped me speak up more in other classes, even if it’s just in the chat.”
— San Diego student
“I’ve gained new friends, I fit in so much better, and I’m just genuinely happier.”
– Roberts Academy student, Cincinnati
Receive Educational Theatre Foundation news and updates in your inbox, once or twice a month!
*We will not share your email address or send you spam.