Children’s Theatre Company and Bethune Arts Elementary School Forge Groundbreaking Long-Term Partnership

In the fall of 2021, Bethune Arts Elementary School in Minneapolis and Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) embarked on a pioneering partnership aimed at integrating high-quality arts programming across all grade levels. This multi-year collaboration includes in-school residencies, professional development for teachers, family engagement activities, and summer enrichment programs. The 2024 summer camps are funded by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, courtesy of a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Ann Joseph-Douglas, image provided

The partnership is directed by Ann Joseph-Douglas, director of Education at CTC.

“The collaboration between CTC, Bethune, and Minnesota Public Schools has been fantastic,” said Ann Joseph-Douglas. “From the outset, classroom teachers have been incredibly supportive of our education team. The ongoing communication among all stakeholders has been key to our success both in the classroom and beyond. It’s inspiring to witness the dedication of the staff at Bethune to their families, ensuring the school serves as a strong community hub. Engaging with families has been a highlight, reinforcing that education extends beyond the classroom, with teachers, families, and community members all supporting student achievement. Additionally, the Office of Extended Learning has been crucial in supporting our summer scholars program, enabling in-depth programming that would not be possible without the full commitment of the school and district.”

“Our partnership with CTC and the grade level residencies has been more powerful and impactful than any other we’ve worked with,” said Jody Lazo, Arts Integration Magnet Specialist. “Education is challenging and meeting students’ needs is a huge task. The support from CTC is invaluable as they work with our teachers and students to address specific needs and elevate our work through theater arts in a way we could never achieve independently. The depth and investment of this partnership is what makes it so successful.”

Bethune Arts Elementary in the Heritage Park neighborhood of Minneapolis is a Turnaround Arts magnet school, a national school improvement program created in 2011. Turnaround Arts is based on the principle that integrated arts education can help transform schools facing significant educational challenges. An initial three-year program evaluation of Turnaround Arts pilot schools, released in 2015, highlighted significant improvements in academic achievement, reductions in disciplinary referrals, and increased attendance.

Turnaround Arts, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, began working with Minnesota schools in 2014, administered by the Minnesota Department of Education.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Minnesota has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, with disparities by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status despite overall high rankings on standardized tests and graduation rates.

Children’s Theatre Company is committed to addressing this resource gap by providing educational programs that support student achievement. CTC serves nearly 250,000 students and families through its productions, classes, camps, and school partnerships, recognizing the need to support all students regardless of background and socioeconomic status.