By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
Sharing Our World. That’s a great mantra, a beautiful catch phrase meant to park itself in your brain and take root.
But at Big Thought, sharing our world is the very essence of what we do for children, families and communities. Because when you share your world, it becomes part of their world. So consider this piece another extension of how Big Thought shares its world, as well as a sequel to November’s Thought Leadership story.
Big Thought’s dedicated leaders shared their knowledge, experiences, and heartfelt guidance during two recent opportunities to connect with audiences filled with eager youths and motivated educators. Big Thought presented at the National Guild for Community Arts Education’s 78th annual Conference for Community Arts Education in Philadelphia, and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts Career Days 2015 in Dallas.
Here’s a recap of each event and Big Thought’s participation:
National Guild Conference for Community Arts Education: Motivating parents and families as advocates was the theme of Big Thought’s role in the four-day convention that took place Nov. 11-14, 2015 in Philadelphia. Erin Offord, Big Thought’s Senior Director of Programs; James Adams, Big Thought’s Community Engagement Specialist; and Mary Hernandez, Big Thought’s Project Specialist, Parent and Family Engagement; all were on hand to talk about how important it is to make sure parents and families are engaged advocates in their child’s life and education.
“My work is always about connections, conversations and bringing Family Engagement to the forefront as a partner, a source of love and commitment to a shared responsibility,” says Hernandez. “I don’t want this to be dismissed as a formality that we have to do, nor as one other thing to do. Families are the grounded center to the work we do with children.”
Offord and Adams presented a PowerPoint on parents and families as advocates, while Hernandez shared pictures that broke down the myth of what we usually think of as families. Photos depicted fathers participating with their children, parents side by side creating art, families filling out an activity booklet with lots of puzzles, coloring and sketching.
The presentation underscored the powerful role of the traditional family as well as the blended and non-traditional family. These days families aren’t one size fits all. They may include grandparents, older siblings, aunts and uncles in addition to or instead of the usual mom and dad. It’s important to corral that family around the well being of the child. It’s crucial to view that family as partners in the child’s growth and development.
Big Thought has been motivating parents and families as child advocates for more than a decade. Offord, Adams and Hernandez were elated to impart their experiences and knowledge to rooms full of educators looking to do the same.
Booker T. Washington Career Days 2015: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts held its Career Days, in conjunction with its College Showcase 2015 to support the school’s senior and junior classes, on Nov. 19-20, 2015. Career Days is catered to the school’s freshmen and sophomore classes as a way for them to start thinking about their future professions, so a wide variety of choices are represented not just the arts.
Big Thought’s LeAnn Binford, Director of BT Institute; Glenn Baldwin, Chief Financial Officer; and Lisa Schmidt, Senior Youth Development Specialist; spoke to freshmen and sophomores during the two-day event. The presentations also included games and interactive activities.
Binford visited with two classes, one of sophomore theater majors and the other of freshman art and music majors.
“My Career Day presentation is intended to start students thinking about the wide range of careers available in the arts,” says Binford, “so I lead the students in planning a production – in the first class it was an outdoor Shakespeare production and in the second it was an art and music event with theatrical lighting.”
During the planning Binford asked leading questions about who will take on what role, both onstage and off, and from there the career options began to unfold – ticket sellers, stage hands, web designers, accountants, makeup artists, marketers, and of course actors.
“The freshman group was especially creative, and we wrapped the time by focusing back on their plans,” says Binford. “I shared a bit of my path through music to arts management, and then they started opening up about their passions.”
Baldwin kept his presentation to numbers, naturally, for the sophomore strings orchestra. He began by talking about the importance of numbers in our lives, in music, and in the production of a concert.
“Expenses have to be covered by ticket price,” says Baldwin. “Ticket sales are an estimate of seats multiplied by price. Expenses are rent, fees, marketing, etc. Then there is budgeting. It’s all connected.”
Finally Schmidt addressed a freshman dance class of more than 30 students. The theme of her presentation was “Social Activism Through the Arts.” She talked about Big Thought, the opportunity gap, and the catalyst for change that is the arts. Schmidt touched on Big Thought’s Creative Solutions program, which she created, and its importance in helping youth express their inner feelings, helping them heal, and helping them transform their lives.
Schmidt encouraged students to become teaching artists that share their innate talents with those that need it most. She also had the students play a conflict resolution, theater and dance game designed to illustrate how to use the arts to teach deeper concepts.