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  • Impact Austin

Community Partner Spotlight: Checking in with ZACH Theatre

In June 2013, ZACH Theatre was one of five nonprofits awarded a $100,000 grant.

We recently had an opportunity to check with the arts organization, and discuss some of the meaningful work they are doing to address the gaps in arts education being offered at Austin’s most high-need schools.

Despite numerous studies that report an arts-rich education leads to positive academic outcomes, many schools in Austin ISD still lack the resources necessary to adequately fulfill state-mandated fine arts curriculum requirements. In Texas, all elementary school students are required to receive state standards-based instruction in music, art, and theatre. However, in AISD, drama teachers have been eliminated in all elementary schools, leaving classroom teachers to fulfill state requirements for drama education with little to no training.

ZACH’s Arts Across the Curriculum (AAC) project, funded by Impact Austin, trains classroom teachers to integrate arts-based teaching strategies when introducing new concepts and vocabulary words in many subject areas including science, language arts, social studies, and math. A typical day in an AAC classroom could involve student acting out characters from literature, learning science or math vocabulary through movement and song, re-enacting situations based on historical events/places, and engaging students kinesthetically through theatre games.

The preliminary results of this program have been incredibly positive. Classroom teachers have been very supportive of the program and eager to learn these arts-based techniques. Teachers have found that their students are more actively engaged, using their imagination and critical thinking skills in order to better retain curricular content.

Teachers say:

"I've already started using these strategies throughout my week. I've never seen them retain vocabulary so well."

"She hadn’t smiled all year; we were starting to get worried. The first day of Arts Across the Curriculum…she laughed."  

“My students all have learning disabilities. Learning through the arts works great for them and helps them feel smart.”

"They had no idea that they learned the English lesson. I asked a student if she realized she had just learned the material and she said 'No, I was too busy having fun.”

For more information visit:

Visit See Our Impact page to learn more about the wonderful work Impact Austin members have supported over the years.


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