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Schools selected for 2017-18 JumpStart Theatre class

Thespians singing on stage at the International Thespian Festival

March 3, 2017

The Educational Theatre Association has selected three schools for the third year of JumpStart Theatre, EdTA’s three-year pilot initiative designed to build sustainable musical theatre programs where there previously were none. The schools being added in 2017-18 are Clark Montessori High School, Roberts Academy, and Oyler School, all in Cincinnati.

JumpStart Theatre is a collaboration between EdTA and New York-based Music Theatre International and iTheatrics and is being financed entirely by grants and donations.

Adding these schools to the pilot will broaden the exploration of the impact that participation in theatre has on students in diverse situations. Roberts Academy has a large population of students who are English language learners, and aims to use theatre to help teach students English.

Oyler School is part of a growing national movement aimed at revitalizing schools by combining academic, health, and social services under one roof. In the Lower Price Hill neighborhood, Oyler School helps address poverty by hosting health and vision centers within the school, and partners with the Community Learning Center Institute to help after hours with services like nutrition classes and mentoring. For a generation, the neighborhood has prioritized increasing its high school graduation rate and has succeeded in growing it from five to 50 percent over the last 15 years. Participation in the JumpStart Theatre program will play a critical role in the community’s effort to continue and increase that growth.

The program’s addition of Clark Montessori, the nation’s first Montessori high school, means that both of Cincinnati’s Montessori high schools will be participating.

The six schools that joined the program in the first two years—Holmes Middle School, Gamble Montessori High School, Finneytown Middle School, Aiken New Tech High School, Gilbert A. Dater High School, and Felicity-Franklin Middle School—are currently engaged in rehearsals of their JumpStart Theatre shows and will present public performances in March and May.

JumpStart Theatre is structured as a scalable program that can be adapted into a sustainable model for underserved schools nationwide. Each participating pilot school is provided three years of support by EdTA, MTI, and iTheatrics, through educator training, mentors, scripts, and study guides. Mentorship and educator training resources include three all-day “boot camps” held on Fridays throughout the year.

JumpStart Theatre is modeled on programs developed by MTI and iTheatrics and embraced in co-partnerships with The Shubert Organization, the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities, New York City’s Department of Education, NBC Universal, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Blumenthal Center.

Integral to the pilot is the JumpStart Theatre Research Project being led by Dr. James Catterall, director of the Centers for Research on Creativity (CRoC). The research will measure the annual and cumulative impact of the pilot on student development in nine behavioral areas: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, metacognition, problem solving, self-efficacy, life satisfaction, attitudes about arts, and a general outlook for the future.

The program received a new grant for $25,000 from the Eleanora C.U. Alms Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee. “I was impressed with the program and the impact it has on the schools and students involved,” said Keri Mesina, senior program officer in the Foundation Office at Fifth Third Bank said. “I enjoyed the JumpStart Theatre breakfast event in December; it gave me a better understanding of the program and partnerships it has. It was also nice to see other community funders at the table.”

JumpStart Theatre is funded by a combination of generous grants from public and private sources including: Allstate; Eleanora C.U. Alms Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee; ArtsWave; Barnes Dennig; Benefits Network Insurance; Community Arts Initiatives; Duke Energy; The Greater Cincinnati Foundation; The Donald C. and Laura M. Harrison Family Foundation; Hilton; iTheatrics; The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation; James & Lauren Miller; Music Theatre International; Ohio Arts Council; The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation; William O. Purdy, Jr. Foundation Fund; and Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.


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