In 2020, JumpStart Theatre schools faced the same fundamental challenge as other educational theatre programs — making theatre happen in a pandemic. But JumpStart Theatre schools aren’t like other programs: The 39 participating schools are part of ETF’s flagship program to build sustainable theatre programs in middle schools where there previously were none.
Here’s how it works: Six regional theatre partners administer JumpStart Theatre in 10 states. After a rigorous application process, schools make a three-year commitment. Thanks to partners iTheatrics and Music Theatre International, each school receives $12,000 worth of services, training, mentoring, and support annually to produce a full-scale show for their community. JumpStart Theatre also provides teacher stipends and modest budgets for sets and costumes. Students are involved in every aspect of the production: performance, costumes, sets, technical support, and design.
Some highlights from the year:
Both students and teachers carry the impact of JumpStart Theatre well beyond the stage. Take a look at what participants have to say:
“Special needs students don’t often have a chance to shine, and theatre gives them that moment. As they worked together, general education students demonstrated increased empathy, patience, adaptability, and willingness to compromise. All the students involved in theatre have improved in a variety of areas, including overall academics, engagement, and confidence. They have even applied their newfound theatre skills to other classes.”
– Stephanie Brahim, Los Coches Creek Middle School, San Diego
“Our program immensely enhanced our Latino [ESL] students’ willingness to communicate. The students have better attitudes, self-confidence. Theatre has helped us to recognize the struggles our kids face when they don’t speak the language and to see them grow and communicate.”
– Ligia Cuevas-Johnson, Roberts Academy Teacher, Cincinnati
“My friends and I are so excited now that we have a piece of something at school where we can be ourselves.”
– Frostburg, Maryland, student
“I’ve gained new friends, I fit in so much better, and I’m just genuinely happier.”
– Roberts Academy student, Cincinnati