Dive into Summer Learning: Time to go to the Perot!

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By, Elysse Alvarado

Dallas City of Learning believes that summer learning shouldn’t be confined to a classroom. Instead, students should be encouraged to learn by getting their hands dirty and interacting with the world around them.

Through DCOL’s partnership with KERA Learn, students focus on STEM learning through projects such as planting herb gardens, creating art projects using recycled items and even designing their own airplanes! Students at West Dallas SOARS dived into summer science learning by visiting the Perot Natural History and Science Museum.

Discovering new things at the Perot Museum!Dallas City of Learning helps close the opportunity gap by providing high quality education programming. DCOL also aims to connect children to their community in unique and fun ways. Visiting local institutions gives students the chance to further connect with their home city and shows them that learning can be fun. The day began with an IMAX movie about the famed Galapagos Islands. They learned how the islands were created and about the diverse animals that inhabit the islands. Then it was time to explore the Perot!

Students diving into summer learning at Perot.

From learning about native Texas critters to marveling over dinosaur fossils, the day was filled with plenty of wonder and lots of giggles. But, who better to ask about their day then students themselves? Here is what students at Dallas City of Learning had to say about their day.

What was your favorite part of the day?

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Summer is a great time to jump into learning! Fight the “summer slide” by sending your child to a great summer learning program or exploring Dallas through exciting, educational opportunities

Big ThoughtDive into Summer Learning: Time to go to the Perot!

Imagination Takes Flight: Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! at Love Field

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By Carson Bolding

This past Saturday, the Frontiers of Flight Museum and Dallas Love Field Airport opened up their doors to children and families for Dallas City of Learning’s 5th Annual Turn Up! at Love Field. The event featured free admission to the museum, tours of the new terminal at the airport, opportunities to build foam gliders and experiment with wind tubes, food samples from airport concessionaires, and more.

The Turn Up was hosted by Dallas City of Learning, a public-private citywide partnership between the City of Dallas and Dallas ISD, managed by Big Thought. DCOL brings high-quality summer learning programs to students across the city to stem summer learning loss. Last summer, Big Thought partnered with SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation to evaluate the impact of the initiative. They found that over 23,000 Dallas ISD students participated in DCOL programs and consistently showed a higher GPA at the beginning of the new school year than they had the previous year.    


The Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! at Love Field promotes summer learning by engaging students in a new environment and exposing them to a wide variety of aviation career possibilities. This year, kids had the chance to explore the cockpits of airplanes at the museum and make slime with Seeds to STEM. The terminal tour pointed out the spot on the tarmac where President LBJ became the first president to be sworn in on this side of the Mississippi, and Big Thought’s Mobile Tech XPerience was on-site to teach kids about robot design and computer programming. There was something for everyone!

Closing the opportunity gap is a team effort. Every year, the Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! at Love Field brings community partners together to provide valuable resources and opportunities to the young people who need them most.

Big ThoughtImagination Takes Flight: Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! at Love Field


Students get an in-depth, behind-the-scenes view of the airport

Who: Big Thought will be presenting the fourth annual Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! At Dallas Love Field, along with Dallas ISD, Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas Love Field and its Centennial Committee, and the city of Dallas.

Available for interviews: Kristina Dove, senior partner relations manager, Big Thought, can discuss Dallas City of Learning, a partnership of Big Thought, the city of Dallas and Dallas ISD to ensure that all students have access to high-quality summer learning programs that stem summer learning loss. Mark Duebner, director of Aviation, Dallas Love Field, and Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, president and CEO, Frontiers of Flight Museum will be on hand as well.

When: Saturday, June 24, 2017. Event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; best opportunities for interviewing and capturing B roll footage should be from about 10:30 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. Approximately 1,400 attendees are expected at this year’s event.

Where: Frontiers of Flight Museum, located at 6911 Lemon Ave., Dallas.

What: The Turn Up! event at the Frontiers of Flight Museum will feature exhibits, terminal tours, food and lots of fun for kids, teens and their families, including:

  • Free admission to the Frontier of Flight Museum
  • Touring the Love Field terminal
  • Learning about the teams who keep the airport running
  • Discovering airport equipment and other machines used in keeping the airport humming
  • Sampling food from the concessionaires who serve airport passengers
  • Getting a hands-on look at the Airport Rescue Fire-Fighter Truck and large snow-removal equipment
  • Exploring the Frontier Flyer airplane
  • Viewing a living history performance of prominent pioneers in aviation
  • Building foam gliders and experimenting with wind tubes
  • Also present at the museum will be Big Thought’s Mobile Tech XPerience, a retrofitted RV featuring STEM-related educational activities such as 3D modeling and printing, Lego robot design and construction, programming in Scratch, and other hands-on tech learning for kids to enjoy.
  • The event also will feature musical entertainment onstage, food trucks, exhibitors, on-site registration for Dallas City of Learning workshops and learning sessions, and giveaways.

Details: The Turn Up! at Dallas Love Field is one of the most-anticipated and attended Dallas City of Learning events of the year. It exposes students to the inner workings of a major airport and introduces a wide variety of aviation career opportunities.

For 30 years, education non-profit Big Thought has worked with local and national partners to bring tailored, creative learning opportunities to kids in Dallas neighborhoods with the greatest need. Students in these high-need neighborhoods do not have equitable access to crucial out-of-school education and social and emotional learning time, which creates an opportunity gap. Dallas City of Learning is a citywide initiative to ensure all students have access to high-quality summer learning programs to stem summer learning loss. Big Thought works with a powerful network of more than 330 neighborhood, community and city partners to connect students to free or low-cost local resources and opportunities for in-school, out-of-school and summer learning.

https://www.bigthought.org/event/dallas-city-of-learning-turn-up-at-frontiers-of-flight-museum/  https://www.bigthought.org/dallas-city-of-learning/

Media Contact:

Linda Graham, The Power Group

214-498-6313 or [email protected]


One Line Wonders: Powerful Prose That Cleanses Souls

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

Oh those one line wonders. They come at you fast and furious at DaVerse Lounge. We’re talking about young, expressive poets who get up on the platform, face the mic and unleash powerful prose that cleanses their souls as it enlightens the audience.

The third DaVerse Lounge event of the 12th season, held December 9, 2016 at Life in Deep Ellum, is certainly no different. The evening drew 300 readers and receivers, with 13 schools represented and plenty of emotional literacy merriment. We even had Gopal Raman, the Southwest Region winner of the National Student Poets Program 2016, in the crowd as well as on the stage.

So without further ado, here are a dozen one line wonders to remind us that personal poetry covers all cathartic bases.   

“She strokes my head and pats my back, bringing back memories of when I was young”
– An ode to mothers
Jamyah, Thomas J. Rusk Middle School

“I guarantee you I’m going to make it there 10 minutes early because rush hour traffic doesn’t apply to me”
– A humorous manifesto to the self deep inside
Vertiz, High school graduate

“Doesn’t it feel like I’m a rapper because I talk too much”
– Stream of consciousness self-expression
Jaziel, Uplift Luna Preparatory – Secondary

“Have you ever met that one person that makes your heart beat and puts air in your lungs?”
– The heightened state of ripe love
Semira, John Horn High School

“Our own opinion is the only one that should matter”
– Life exasperates as it exhilarates
Elizabeth, Oliver W. Holmes Middle School

“I dissolve in tea, life dissolves in me”
– Tea as a metaphor for life
Gopal, St. Mark’s School of Texas

“I wrote this just to get funky, just to get funky on this microphone”
– A tribute to great and powerful musical voices
Camika Spencer, Teacher, Lancaster Middle School

“So I take pictures of my big beautiful smile with a dog face…that’s my hashtag selfie life”
– Life as experienced through hashtags
Johanna, Thomas J. Rusk Middle School

“The moon was the one who lit my way through darkness, the one who appeared when I needed someone”
– A love letter to the moon
Casey, Thomas Jefferson High School

“People look at me like I’m crazy, but I am nothing but space”
– An existential look at life
Francisco, Oliver W. Holmes Middle School

“We keep preaching about peace, but keep using a piece”
– A lament about violence in our current society
Julissa, Cedar Valley College

“My panic attacks were not scheduled like doctor’s appointments”
– The dissection of an emotional crisis
Ellery, The Novus Academy graduate

DaVerse Lounge thanks TACA, Dallas Mavericks, State Farm, Liberty Burger, and the M.R. & Evelyn Hudson Foundation for their generous support.

Photos by Can Turkyilmaz @turk_studio; collage presentation by Mario Tarradell

Big ThoughtOne Line Wonders: Powerful Prose That Cleanses Souls

For Tacovia Braggs, DaVerse Lounge Is Essential to Life

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

Tacovia Braggs was a junior at David W. Carter High School. She was 16. The perennial wallflower, she buried her head in her poetry. So her spoken word teacher, Darius Frasure, invited her to attend DaVerse Lounge. It was 2005.

Tacovia, now a busy, 28-year-old flight attendant, remains as connected to DaVerse Lounge as that fateful first time she got up onstage and read the provocative, no-minced-words piece, “Just To Make You Think.” In fact, head over to any DaVerse Lounge event this 12th season – don’t miss it Friday, December 9, 2016 at Life in Deep Ellum – and you’ll see Tacovia working the platform right alongside DaVerse Lounge creator and emcee Will Richey.

“You can’t describe DaVerse, you can only experience it,” she says by phone from the Indianapolis airport. “As an adult you will never find a place like DaVerse, so as a kid it’s, well, DaVerse. It is what it is. DaVerse should be in every city, in every corner of the world, because everybody should have that opportunity.”

For Tacovia, DaVerse arrived in the nick of time. She spent much of her adolescence trapped in her own emotions. You see, Tacovia’s home life was less than stellar. At the tender age of 2, her father was murdered. That’s when her mother closed off the rest of the world, including Tacovia. So the little girl born and raised in Dallas slowly grew more and more insular. She turned to her writing for refuge.

“My solution to the problem was to bottle it up and say nothing,” she says. “That was the only way I knew how to handle life. Because showing emotions was either laughed at or frowned upon. I’m a writer because of it; that was my way of talking without talking.”

So at DaVerse, Tacovia not only read her original poetry before an audience at every event, but she also found a safe haven for her fragile soul. Her DaVerse debut was indeed nerve-wracking, and Tacovia admits that she hid behind the paper where her poem was written. It became her shield. But there was already something magical at work. She felt a kinship with total strangers.

“You walk into that room and there are all these people everywhere, and yet you felt like you belonged somewhere,” she says. “You didn’t feel like they were turning around watching you when you walked through the door. Nobody judged you. I didn’t feel anybody was watching me. Kids were nice, the adults were nice. They were all welcoming. I felt so excited about being around these kids. I wasn’t really social even when I was a kid. I wasn’t a social butterfly talking to children. But being in there it was like, oh, they are kind of like me.”

Tacovia immediately connected with Richey and with DaVerse Lounge mentor and bandleader Alejandro Perez, Jr. She would be invited back again and again until attending DaVerse was a life essential like food and water.

“That first poem was full of so much conviction, power and strength that we invited her to become a part of our traveling poetry group in the Metroplex,” says Richey. “DaVerse Lounge gave her a home to nourish and activate the power of her voice, and in turn we learned from her. What started as a mentor-mentee relationship has evolved into a lifelong friendship, even a sense of family. My wife and children consider her a part of our extended family.”

Through the trials and tribulations of the teenage years, and then the college years, and then the getting ready for the real world years, DaVerse Lounge was there. It became Tacovia’s refuge, her character-building sanctuary.

“I knew that my situation when I was growing up wasn’t the best of circumstances, but when I got to DaVerse I never had to think about it,” she says. “I didn’t have to think about homework or test scores or my house or my family situation. I was not thinking about all the things that bothered me because I was overwhelmed with all the joy that was around me.”

And then something extraordinary happened, something completely unexpected. Tacovia’s mother was driving her to the events, and she would stay for the entire show. Slowly but surely the lines of communication between Tacovia and her mother began to open. Two people who were virtual strangers after tragedy struck suddenly started to talk.

“Before DaVerse we didn’t have conversations, period,” she says, “so it definitely opened everything for us. When I came to DaVerse you were able to talk about it, express it. It made me more confident because I was learning how to accept and process life.”

Today Tacovia is based in Houston and has been a flight attendant for United Airlines since 2011. She’s a North American flight attendant, which includes travel to Canada and Mexico. “That’s about as international as I get,” she jokes.

She’ll tell you without any qualms that she talks up DaVerse Lounge on the planes. DaVerse Lounge is her rite of passage, the missing link that gave her the courage to face her emotions, to socialize with strangers, to revel in an ambiance that is completely judgment-free. DaVerse Lounge turned this wallflower into the belle of the ball.

“What Big Thought invested in is a goldmine because kids are always being told what to do,” she says. “They are at home and being told what to do. They go to school and they are being told what to do, how to react, what choices to make. There is this constant control. As adults we go from obligation to obligation to obligation. But kids go through this in a heightened state because they are growing. Being in DaVerse, even if you aren’t reading, gives them a place to be, to just breathe, and not be bogged down with concerns. You don’t need to worry about anything when you go there. You don’t have that burden of trying to figure out what am I supposed to be doing. You’re not getting fussed at or criticized or chastised. You are there to be a part of something greater than you. DaVerse is what life should be like.”

Richey sees Tacovia as a shining portrait of the power of DaVerse Lounge. He found in Tacovia a fellow poet, a dear friend, and a kindred heart-on-the-sleeve spirit.

“It is an honor to have her back at every show to provide that nurturing and yet firm example of a young female voice who has become a thriving professional,” he says. “It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support an adult. Tacovia embodies that.”

DaVerse Lounge, a partnership between Big Thought and Journeyman Ink, thanks TACA, Dallas Mavericks, and State Farm for their generous support.

Photos courtesy of Tacovia Braggs and Can Turkyilmaz @turk_studio













Big ThoughtFor Tacovia Braggs, DaVerse Lounge Is Essential to Life