Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) and Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) have joined forces to launch a new professional development program, ConnectEDU powered by PNC. ConnectEDU is the first program to be implemented as part of the brand new partnership formed between DSM and Dallas ISD with the intent to bring the spirit of Broadway to virtual learning and engagement opportunities for students and educators throughout the district.
ConnectEDU is focused on providing high-quality professional development opportunities for theatre and dance educators that will increase cultural intelligence in the classroom. The goal of the program is to provide Dallas ISD educators with the opportunity to engage and learn from high-profile directors, choreographers, acting coaches, dancers, and other theatre professionals, ultimately leading to the use of increased anti-racist and inclusive learning methods in the classroom.
The inaugural session, Cultivating Anti-Racist Theatre Pedagogy with Black Acting Methods, took place September 24 led by Sharrell D. Luckett, PhD. Twenty-four Dallas ISD elementary, middle, and high school theatre educators from across the district participated in the session focused on rooting their classroom teaching methods in anti-racist and inclusive frameworks. The educators worked through various scenarios that offered them the knowledge and skills to apply what they were learning directly to their own classrooms, pushing forward the program’s goal of real-world applications.
The next session will occur October 29 and 30. The session will focus on best practices for including the true cultural experiences of students in the works they’re presenting onstage and in class. By including these authentic experiences, students will gain the opportunity to explore their cultural identities in a safe and freeing way.
“I am thrilled to share another very important and impactful partnership in Dallas. We worked hand-in-hand with Dallas ISD to develop this formal relationship. The work begins with DSM providing professional development resources to the esteemed theatre and dance teachers of Dallas ISD and will grow from there as the partnership develops. Our shared goal is to deepen students’ understanding and knowledge of vital cultural arts such as live theatre. We are thankful to collaborate on this important initiative, as it aligns with a key element of our organizational mission: equity, diversity, inclusivity, and access in the arts,” said Ken Novice, president of Dallas Summer Musicals. “Additionally, we feel honored that PNC Foundation has chosen to sponsor this valuable program.”
“Our innovative ConnectEDU collaboration with Dallas Summer Musicals provides meaningful professional development with celebrity artists and leaders for our theatre and dance educators,” says Rachel Harrah, director of theatre and dance at Dallas ISD. “Our fine arts educators are passionate about bringing social emotional learning, social justice, and BIPOC artists into their classrooms every day. We are grateful to work with Dallas Summer Musicals and continue our mission of providing an inclusive, diverse and rigorous curriculum that is representative of the voices and experiences of all students.”
In addition to ConnectEDU, Dallas ISD Broadway Days is a program set to roll out Spring of 2021 and will bring live theatre into Dallas ISD classrooms. Understanding the critical importance for children to experience live theatrical entertainment, DSM will provide the opportunity for all students throughout the district to watch and engage with virtually streamed productions that embody the spirit of Broadway. Along with experiencing the shows, DSM’s education and community partnerships team will development engagement activities, tailored to specific grade levels, that the students will be able to participate in while in their classrooms or at home learning virtually.
“PNC has been fortunate to work individually with Dallas Summer Musicals and Dallas ISD on several community initiatives and projects,” said Brendan McGuire, PNC regional president for North Texas. “It is our hope that through this innovative programming, which focuses on culturally significant arts education and professional development, we can help enhance educational experiences for all Dallas ISD students.”
ConnectEDU powered by PNC, is part of DSM’s Education and Community Partnerships program, for which funding is provided, in part, by the Texas Instruments Foundation, Hirsch Family Foundation and the Fitchenbaum Charitable Trust.