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The Sparks of a New Future Shine Bright at Campbell

This school year, Creative Action will engage more than 20,000 people at 130 sites throughout Central Texas.  In all, the team will deliver more than 30,000 hours of classes and workshops aimed at fostering arts learning, social awareness, and social-emotional development. However, some of the year’s most concentrated work will be focused close to home. Located blocks from the Center for Creative Action, Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media and Performing Arts Institute (formerly L.L Campbell Elementary) is the base site for developing Creative Action’s Spark Schools initiative.

Spark Schools is a new endeavor in which Creative Action staff establishes a dedicated, lasting presence at a campus that is seeking to make transformative changes. Creative Action is one of several organizations partnering to support Campbell’s campus renaissance, including AISD’s Creative Learning Initiative and MindPOP. On Thursday, September 15th, Campbell hosted a grand opening ceremony attended by students, parents, and senior AISD staff. The celebration featured performances and artwork from older students at Campbell’s vertical team schools, Kealing Middle School and McCallum High School, including the Kealing Middle School “Rockestra”, choir, and live audio production standouts. After the Campbell choir opened the ceremony with their resurrected school song, music teacher Ms. Mendoza offered these fitting words from modern dance pioneer Martha Graham:

Campbell students perform a song about conflict resolution

Campbell students perform a song about conflict resolution with Teaching Artist Zac

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.”

For their part, a team of more than 20 Creative Action Teaching Artists and dedicated staff will provide more than 1,000 hours of programming residencies focused on theatre, digital media, visual art, music and dance. Much of the work will be co-taught by classroom teachers and teaching artists—laying the groundwork for new ways of teaching and learning at the school.  There will also be a range of additional on-campus efforts, including a “Film School for Teachers” professional development workshop, classroom renovations, and recurring showcases to celebrate student work.

“I really can’t overstate how thrilled we are to be partnering with Campbell in this intensive way,” says Natalie Goodnow, a Creative Action School-Based Programs Director and leader of the Spark Schools initiative. “We share with Campbell, and Principal Moore, a dedication to whole-child learning through the arts.  It was so lovely and inspiring to look around and see these young scholars clapping, cheering, dancing and even audibly gasping during the Grand Opening Performances. As a team, we’ve planted the seed of something really special.”


The leader of the tireless Blue Dragons, Principal Keith Moore, agrees. “Exposure to the arts is everything,” Moore says. “Integration of the arts ensures opportunities for our instructors to reach scholars through their own learning styles—be it kinesthetic, auditory, or visual. Our scholars are already embracing healthy risk-taking as they experience learning through arts-integration. [They engage in] dance, instrumentation, voice, media, broadcasting/newsroom, print making, creating animation, digital storytelling, and podcasting. The AISD Fine Arts Department, Creative Action, MindPOP, and the Creative Learning Initiative are our amazing hand-in-hand partners on this endeavor.”

We are currently laying the groundwork for two more Spark Schools in Central Texas. We hope you’ll join us for Campbell’s first student showcase on October 13th from 6-8 pm at Lee Lewis Campbell Media and Performing Arts Institute, 2613 Rogers Ave, Austin TX 78722.

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