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  • Stacey Bowers / Photos by Mark Fonville and

One Big Way Thea Brings the Arts to Schools Near You

In 2014, Thea Foundation launched a new program, called Arts Reconstruction, to create new and augment existing arts programs within schools, making sure that the arts are accessible during the day when school is in session. Orchestra programs were added to schools throughout central Arkansas, and visual arts teachers were trained in new techniques and given specialized equipment and supplies to carry out these enhanced lesson plans.

Each Arts Reconstruction school is monitored closely so that we can study the effects that increased arts exposure has on students and monitor their progress. Here is what a few of our Arts Reconstruction teachers and students had to say about their experience with the program:

The Thea Foundation has helped Mabelvale Middle School tremendously! As a Title-I school, most students come from low-income families and our students cannot afford to purchase new or used instruments. The Thea Foundation made it possible for our students to enjoy what they love most by providing instruments and Instructional materials needed for the orchestra program.” - Matthew Farr, Choir and Orchestra Director, Mabelvale Middle School

“Before the orchestra, I had no musical talents. But now I can play the violin very well. One of the reasons I like being in the orchestra is knowing that I am carrying on a wonderful tradition… Almost no one in my family plays a string instrument. Every time that I play my violin, people are astonished… Now that I play the violin, I want to grow up and be a violinist. I thank the string orchestra.” - Nevaeh, 6th grade, North Little Rock Middle School

“I have always wanted to play violin, and since I started playing, I feel like I have accomplished a dream. I also play piano, and having to do two different things at the same time is hard. Playing violin, you have to do two different things at the same time, so I feel it has helped me at piano.” MacKenzie, 6th grade, North Little Rock Middle School

Thea Foundation's Arts Reconstruction program has given our students access to hands-on, highly rewarding processes including paper-making, image transfer, and silk painting. I can see the difference in the engagement level of my students when they are learning about in-depth processes and new materials. My students are experimenting with the possibilities of paper pulp like scientists and researchers. These processes fuel curiosity and ignite our students' enthusiasm. We are so thankful to be a part of this wonderful program.” - Amanda Heinbockel, visual arts teacher, Little Rock Central High School

“These are just a few of the happy faces of young people in my classes that were blown away to be able to use real tools like bone folders and needle punches. It was such a delight to watch them eagerly vie to work with real tapestry needles and waxed thread to make their own journals, sketch books, and activity logs sewn and bound with the beautiful decorative paper… I anticipate all sorts of possibilities in the next two years as we continue this partnership.” Catherine Burns, educator, Forest Heights STEM Academy

“I love being in orchestra because it feels really good to be myself and not care what other people think about me. I feel like I fit in…. I want to learn more about my violin. I think with some practice I can be a great violin player.” Samira, 6th grade, North Little Rock Middle School

“Violin was the first out of five instruments I learned how to play. I don’t think I could survive without listening to music or going to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra concerts sometimes. I dropped out of strings last semester to do drama, but I came straight back for the second semester because I couldn’t stand being out of strings anymore.” Kenzie, 7th grade, North Little Rock Middle

To me, the cello is everything … I want to keep learning so that one day I could be playing in the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra with all the other cellists.” Rosy, 7th grade, North Little Rock Middle School

“The Thea Foundation's Art Reconstruction project gave Sylvan Hills the opportunity to participate in contemporary crafts that would not have been possible otherwise. Because of Thea, our students have been able to make paper, bind books, and transfer their mobile photography to wood. The Thea Foundation has made it possible for the students to show and sell their work to the community. Contemporary crafts and fine art encourage students to use creative problem solving skills and they also train their eyes to look for detail. The products and process in art making also helps build self confidence in ways other subject areas do not.” - Sara Brannen, visual arts teacher, Sylvan Hills High School

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