Episode # 31
Learning Through Art
March 2, 2023
About This Episode
Learning Through Art uses art and technology to help bring arts education into the home, classroom and community through programs like Books Alive! For Kids, Virtual Adventures and Mosaic Edutainment as well as community-building initiatives like Crown Jewels of Jazz, Loads of Love, their program with the Cincinnati Zoo and more. Through in-person programs, virtual offerings and a robust app for kids, Learning Through Art is making a difference, especially for kids in underserved communities.
“Our programs seek to build bridges, break down barriers, and bring neighbors and neighborhoods together in celebration of the rich mosaic beauty of our global multicultural region” Co-Founder and CEO Kathy Wade said.
Kathy Wade and the team at Learning Through Art
Learning Through Art’s driving mission is to provide quality performing arts programs in support of arts integrated education, literacy, community development and engagement- encouraging multi-cultural awareness and understanding.
[00:00:47] Kara: Joining us today are the ladies from Learning Through Art. So, hey ladies, thank you so much for joining
[00:00:53] Carissa: us.]
[00:00:54] Kathy: Thank you for having us. I’m Kathy Wade. I’m the co-founder and CEO of Learning Through Art. We’re celebrating now our 31st year of building resilient communities through art
[00:01:04] Kara: congratulations.
[00:01:05] Kathy: Thank you . Mm-hmm. . And
[00:01:07] Kellie: I’m Kelly Joe Asbury. I’m the Operations manager here at Learning Through Art Incorporated.
[00:01:13] Rachel: My name is Rachel Parker and I am the program manager at learning Through Art.
And hi, I’m Karissa Ray. I am a digital media coordinator and producer with Learning Through Art. I’m actually have my own production company called Greencraft Media, but I am on deck for everything LTA needs, which turns out is a lot of stuff ,
[00:01:32] Kara: which is fantastic.
So, yeah. Ms. Wade, what is learning through Art? How would you explain it to not only us but our
[00:01:42] Kathy: Well, learning
Through Art is a nonprofit performing arts educational organization where we have dedicated all of our time to building community resilient communities through art. And we do that in a few different areas.
We have a national award-winning and three time Emmy winning. Performing arts literacy program called Books Live for Kids, where we make books come alive through sight, sound, and Touch. You read the book, you make a craft, and then there’s a show. In addition to that, we also make sure that we are building that community and everything that we do is based in social-emotional learning.
So not only do we have our huge literacy component, but we also make sure that we join neighbors, that people can actually celebrate this great mosaic that we have, not only here in this region, but around the. And we do that with our we’re bringing our kids cultures critters and craft festival back online with the Cincinnati Zoo Botanical Garden was on hiatus for three years due to Covid.
But this will be our 15th edition, and we’re looking forward to doing that with a world of possibilities. It’ll be a wonderful event. And then we also, I’m a jazz singer. So selfishly , I created a program called Crown, jewels of Jazz, where we celebrate women in jazz because that’s sometimes a face that is not seen and heard as it should be in the jazz world.
I’m a jazz vocalist. So with that thought we were able to create a signature fundraiser, which has now turned into a signature series, and it has been both a full jazz festival to a jazz series. And right now we’re doing crown jewels of jazz series, and it’s always held in July. On Wednesdays during the month of July when we celebrate the wonderful idiom of America’s classical music jazz.
Then we last, but not at least, we, I do performing arts, educational programming in terms of edutainment lecture performances, and that’s our mosaic edutainment division. And we have about two shows that travel all the time, A black anthology of music, which became one of our episodes, which we’ll, I’m sure we’ll talk about in a bit.
And rhythm’s, common bonds, which just show all about . The lesson of. . And we do those not only just for kids in schools, we do them for the community, but we also do them as a corporate cultural communications workshop for corporations to understand how we’re more alike than we are different, and how we can use the idiom of both jazz and the lessons of respect to teach that to all children of all ages.
As I like to say. We treat children we serve as children of all ages. Whether you’re of a newborn or 102 is still a child to us. And we try to tap into that.
[00:04:14] Kara: That’s great. Well, and I have a question. The jazz thing that takes place in July mm-hmm. is. In person or
digital or how does that work?
No, it’s, it’s in person now. Okay.
[00:04:25] Kathy: We went offline for one summer, just during the covid crisis. But it is, it’s a live concert series. So you come in right now, we, we’ve been, we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with people all over the region. Crown Jewel. Jazz was a standalone project. We did this thing called The Hood is Bigger than You Think.
Tour for about 13 years. And we would literally take con concerts, crown crown jewel, jazz, kids cultures, critters and crafts festival, and then always a joint concert with a venue somewhere in the region. We’d take it out to neighborhoods because it was very important to us that we made sure that people understood you must see yourself, you must be in the room, you must meet your neighbor.
You know, we build bridge breakdown barriers, bringing neighbors and neighborhoods together to celebrate our mosaic beauty. So that’s been our sole dedication, for every summer that we’ve been in existence for 30 years. Wow, that’s really cool. So One of the best ways to get people to meet people is particularly when we’re booking something like our, our Zoo Day.
You bring in such an array of entertainment and artists that the people that like the purple singers. , we’ll come to see the purple singers. But we also happen to have the people who like the green singers, cause we brought their favorite singer in too. And while they’re there, not only do do they get to exchange that, that moment of artistic wonder, but they also get to meet each other.
Not, not, that’s your neighbor. Hello. Yeah. . So we see ourselves as being the conduit and the connector for you to never say, I’ve never met a green person or a pink person or a purple person. Yeah. You have the opportunity we provided for you and we hope that you continue the conversation after that, which is
[00:06:01] Kara: fantastic.
[00:06:03] Kathy: This program is now about 25, 26 years old. There was this new thing, new thing, in quotes. You said quotes, cause you can’t
[00:06:12] Rachel: see me, but you
[00:06:14] Kathy: had to get on board with arts education, integrated arts education.
They pulled the arts out of the schools and said, okay, you figure out how to integrate that into math, science, blah, blah, blah, blah. Whatever the curriculum topic was. in the classroom, you had to fuse art into that because the funding was pulled away. I was not a big proponent of it. I’m still not necessarily a big proponent of what you have to do, what you have to do if you’re gonna survive.
So ultimately what I said was, well, if we have to have an integrated arts program, we must make it around a topic that is so paramount in everyone’s lives that if you don’t have it, your life is going to be so different. And for me that was literacy. I couldn’t understand why children wouldn’t wanna read.
So in a conversation with my late husband’s niece who was teaching special ed Cincinnati Public Schools at the time, I explained to her that I really wanted to take books to get to these kids who don’t wanna read or don’t have an interest. Mm-hmm. . And I need to make that book come alive. I need to make it walk across water.
I need to make it sing. I need to make it, I need to make it do so many things. But my question to you is, where does that fit in the classroom curriculum? And she said, language arts and I figured we are in. And she was absolutely right. from that moment on Books of Life for Kids became a real thing. And now we have Books of Life for Kids family Literacy Nights, books of Life for Kids that family Adventures book Select for Kids Virtual a.
And soon to be, but I like to think fixed books of African kids steaming on down the road. I just made that one up. .
[00:07:39] Rachel: Thanks. We’re doing this major
[00:07:40] Kathy: project with the, with the, a Saturday steam school, so you know, steam at rate. So, but that’s the impetus of how the, oh my gosh. The, the educational piece.
It’s always been educational performing arts education, right? Yeah. Even with our entertainment perform lecture performance. . This got us to where I think I know where we are today in terms of being able to take something and do so many pivotal things with literacy. Cuz it, if you can’t read, you can’t succeed.
Right? We just wanna make, we wanna make reading fun, but more importantly and much more on a broader level, we want to make learning flood with an understanding that social-emotional is your number one driver right now, particularly after coming out of Covid. So, and with that, I’ll, I’ll go show you who that talk about the, the wheels of the educational piece.
[00:08:31] Rachel: Well, thank you Ms. Wade. And if I may indulge for just a moment, Kara mm-hmm. , I, I, speaking of education and my own personal journey, I, I didn’t even realize that I loved teaching until I was in graduate. . Oh my goodness. And in that second year, they just throw you in and say, here’s your assistantship.
There’s your classroom. Go teach . And it was like thrown into a creek and just told to swim. And, but that’s when I fell in love with the two. And I, I, I started out in post secondary education and I worked for a lot of years already in ku and was those opportunities to create larger, broader brush relationships in education instead of having everything be so compartmentalized.
Mm-hmm. , I really strove to decompartmentalize in making those relationships, not only again in academia and crossing departments, but also working within the community in various sectors. Working with other institutions on both sides of the river. And as my son was coming up in the public school program in Kentucky and seeing all the challenges that teachers were facing and what was happening within his own academic experience.
At our local public school, I made a shift in and began to work with primary and secondary levels because I was doing so much volunteer work. And then that gradually led to other positions in working with the younger kiddos to also tie together disciplines. And it was finding this opportunity to work for Ms.
Kathy Wade at Learning through Art that was just this incredible,
[00:10:24] Kathy: she, she,
[00:10:26] Rachel: she fosters this ethos of possibility. and it, it all fits under an umbrella of education and advocacy and how you can tie all things to your mission. And and, and the work that we do is, is just it is so rewarding and it is so impactful that I, I, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to, to be a part of it and to be able to draw on my experience and then be on such a learning curve to, to get, to, to be a part of this process,
[00:11:06] Carissa: You can tell you love it. .
[00:11:09] Rachel: Thank you. She’s very good at it too. And I’m gonna look at the company. It all comes down to the people you’re with too.
[00:11:15] Kara: I was gonna say. Yeah. You guys all seem
[00:11:17] Rachel: like a fun group. It’s an incredible chemistry. So was that all I, I’ll hand it over to Ms. Rachel Parker. .
[00:11:25] Carissa: I was gonna,
[00:11:26] Kellie: I mean, Kelly, you couldn’t have said that any better.
I do think it is the workplace culture, the dynamic of our team, the talent, the diverse talent we all bring to the table. I too am a former classroom teacher. I did Teach For America which is how I ended up being a teacher. My undergraduate degree was in art history and English writing. So this is very much like a melding of all of the things.
[00:11:54] Carissa: art, writing education in one
[00:11:58] Kellie: place and with Books Alive for Kids, we bring books alive through sight, sound, and touch for not only the students and the educators, but the families and communities that we serve. And I think, like Kelly said, it’s just, it’s magic and like we feel it, it’s palpable.
And we also hear accounts of like students. Our, our Puppeteer Doria was one of the recipients of receiving books live for kids, and she shares how it was formative. In her, her memories as a child of like having this curriculum in school to how it affected her today being an art teacher and now being a part of our virtual education episodes.
I mean, it is a true full circle experience that as a teacher, I think that’s all you want is that legacy of education and learning to live on.
[00:12:54] Carissa: Mm-hmm. . So that’s, I love it as well. . Oh, we couldn’t have said it better. .
[00:12:59] Rachel: Oh,
[00:13:00] Kara: that’s awesome. All right. And Chris says hi. Yes. Yeah, you’re good. Yeah. You, you
[00:13:06] Rachel: take it
[00:13:07] Carissa: away.
I’m to now. No, you’re fine. I’d now, yes. Working with these educators and I’ll say to both Kelly and Rachel’s points and I know Ms. Wade has shared similar feelings too. It is all about the company U Key, because I think we’ve both had very dyna, we’ve all four had. Very dynamic journeys to this point and in this involvement at this time, in this new iteration of learning through art.
And it’s really the team and the vision that makes the difference, I think, in a different way. I’m not judging better or worse , but a different way than any of us have experienced with some of the organ wonderful organizations that we’ve worked at and even helmed for some of these ladies at the PA in the past as well.
So I came up, I am not an education background, though. Mad props to educators because. I think I know well, I’m a mom. I am the, the team member at this point that has young children who are very much our target audience. And honestly Ms. A Doya are puppeteer and Paige Turner, the host, the Owl, the Intrepid Owl o host of books Life for Kids.
They are are her number one fans like the Heely. You could fight them over it and they’d probably take you out . But to be able to have, you know, this experience of being in this time in my life where primary education hits home in a way it hasn’t since I was a student in, in the public school system myself.
And to get to see my kids experiencing all sorts of different educational opportunities and in some cases, Maybe not the exact opportunities I would want. And to see the kids in our community getting to experience learning through art and all of the arts programs that Cincinnati offers, which is really pretty special.
I moved here five years ago, well, almost six now, which is crazy. From Brooklyn, New York. I was actually at the Today Show as supervising producer of media for today and was in the NBC family at the network level for 12. . So it was an interesting journey to get here and a very, very different experience.
But it’s one, like Rachel said too, that’s very full circle. Actually there’s a crazy synchronicity there where , Kelly Jo and I go way, way, way, way, way, way back. And so I am very grateful to her for when my services were needed or marketing media. All of that stuff was needed here in Cincinnati. And with learning through art that she was able to say, Hey, I know someone which is wonderful, and my business was able to kind of fill a lot of that void for learning through art.
But Rachel. And Kelly and I actually all happened to be from the same hometown about an hour from here, . And we didn’t know it until after Rachel had started in the office and I, I came in and she’s helping me schlep all my media gear up the stairs. And we were chatting and she was like, oh, where are you from?
You know where Kelly’s from? And I’m like, oh, I’m from right. The next town over. Basically, we all went to the same high school, but the next town over. You’ve never heard of it either. And. No, I’m from Maysville, Kentucky. I was like, yeah, this is
[00:16:04] Rachel: bizarre because we’ve lived
[00:16:06] Carissa: all over, we’ve done things all over, and here we all are, you know, many years, we won’t put a number on it, but many years since we left our Maysville Mason County High School public school experience with the, really the introduction of the arts there.
We were all profiled in our hometown paper this fall, which was a very interesting experience. How cute. . Yeah, yeah. After the Emmy win, after books to Life for Kids latest Emmy win. And the fact that we’re all from this town. But it, for me, and I think for all of us, it allowed us this experience to say thank you and to highlight really not just what we had done in the time since we’ve left you know, Our, our reg, our beginning education, our introduction to arts education, but to hold up the the arts teachers and education professionals who really launched us on that journey in ways that are so impactful.
And I think almost anyone who is an appreciator, one who’s an educator or an appreciator of the arts, literacy, and all has those same stories. It’s this one. Who, who know, who saw me, who saw me, who met me, who introduced me to whatever medium that is. Whether that’s a book that changed you or an art class that inspired you.
And we all have so many of those experiences, so literal when, when Rachel says full circle, like she’s not kidding. The ladies said it perfectly, where there’s this new opportunity and this new evolution of learning through art. I think we’ve all been in, and we came on to this, Kelly and I both you know, got our, met Ms. Wade and launched on this journey with her during Covid in the midst of a so many unknowns.
And what she’s describing now and what we have coming up this year. Is a return to the roots, I think, of learning through art and programs. I actually had a photographer on a, on a shoot I was working with yesterday, bringing up the event at the Cincinnati Zoo, the critters cat, cultures, crafts and kids.
Event. I probably said that wrong. , correct me the three Cs, right Rachel? That’s what we said. K. C.
[00:18:11] Rachel: C.
[00:18:12] Carissa: C kids. Critters and Crabs Festival. Yes. But the festival is the zoo that we that Ms. Wade has become known for talking about what an amazing experience it was, how it brought families out who maybe are right here, maybe are right down the street from the zoo, but can’t regularly go there and experience that, but also get to see these dancers from around the world, representing cultures around the world with these animals from around the world, and have this stimulating in-person interactive, multi-sensory experience.
And they were just so thrilled when I was like, it’s coming back this year. And it’ll be my first time to get to be a part of it. So I think we’re going back to so many things that have built community, which is Ms. Wade’s superpower. And honestly is, is I think. The differentiator of learning through art beyond being any sort of program.
It’s a community builder, but what we’ve been able to do with our powers combined, like the Planeteers, and I’m dating myself, but we or the AA team, whatever, I don’t know, but we were able to do is respond in that pandemic and take something that was so palpable. Mm-hmm. of being a sensory experience of being an in-person experience like crown, jewels of jazz.
Like the, the adventures at the zoo, like the family literacy nights and go, how do we serve people who are in this situation who are at home and can’t, we can’t see them, we can’t safely bring them. This content that can really inspire people to become an educator, like a Doria or you know, to, to be.
Inspired by the arts in a new way. But now Books, life for Kids is this multi-faceted, multi-platform experience that’s built upon knowing how to reach people in a way that matters to them in person. And it, and now we can translate back and forth in between these things. We can be that per that program that a homeschooler puts on or a remote schooler, since apparently snow days are no longer happening and I’m so sad for the children of the future.
[00:20:24] Rachel: Yeah. Because now they just
[00:20:25] Carissa: have to log onto Zoom . Right. So, but whatever it is this curriculum or for families, like many that we know and that we work directly with in the community, to have that experience, to bring more of the arts, to bring crafts, to bring actually quality content that they can feel good about into their home and not feel like they’ve just like just here play Candy Crush or Right.
Whatever, to actually give them an experience they can have at home. That’s going to help build the love of the arts and literacy and move that kid forward in a way that really inspires them, but isn’t necessarily building on some of the perils of technology. Yeah. Which I think we and the teachers we’ve worked with and that we’ve tested our app with all know very well of what a slippery slope that can be.
That is, yeah, for sure.
[00:21:14] Rachel: Mrs. Ms. , Ms. Wade, would you mind sharing the story of the little boy up in Connecticut?
[00:21:21] Kathy: Oh, absolutely. So when we first started the program, we have a partnership with the eastern area of the Links Incorporated. And international organization of volunteers comprised primarily of African American women, very influential African American women.
I have full disclosure, I am a member, but I was approached. I happened to have cocktails at a, at a national meeting with someone. They asked, I talked about Books of Life for Kids. Long story short, the Organization decided to adapt Books of life for kids in the eastern area of this organization continues to utilize it.
The very first school that we went to there’s a very large Portuguese population in Connecticut Bridgeport, Connecticut. And the very first school that we went to was a classroom full of third graders of student, students of color from around the world. It was the most fascinating thing I’d ever seen.
Wow. When they took the program into the classroom because they just wanted to try it out on a small scale. They took the program into the classroom. We did three books. But one of the things that happened is that parents started hearing about this program from their children. And so the parents decided through the facilitation of the chapter and the parents, and this is something the parents actually pulled together themselves.
They decided they wanted to do as a part of a culminating activity to bring a dish from their country and have a, you know, a reception type thing. As the kids did their final presentation of this book. So one of the parents came and talked to one of the members who had brought the program in and said, you know, I couldn’t get my son to read.
And he started coming home talking about Books of Life for Kids. And I finally said to him, well, you know, tell me what do you like about Books of Life for Kids? He said, well, I finally have a book with somebody in it that looks like me and I’m learning something. Ah. And I mean, two things happened at the end of that first year, one, their reading scores went up.
They have a, a pro a reading scale or, or like our Ohio reading programs, well, a testing, state testing. They had the state testing program for reading. Their scores had gone up three to four, three to five points. And for me, the biggest thing was this kid saying, I finally saw myself in a book. Yeah. I mean, that was the driving force from that moment on that if we do nothing else, I just need you to see you.
Mm-hmm. , because if you see you, you can be that. Yeah. We always say that to kids, but we have to reinforce that as every visual that we have. You know, right now we are living in a very highly driven tactile because you’re pumping your buttons on your phone, but you’re seeing images all the time repeat, you know, just over and over again.
I need you to see you in positive ways. Yeah. So that for me, probably is the biggest reward that we get, no matter when or where we do this program.
[00:24:10] Carissa: I love that.
[00:24:11] Kara: Mm-hmm. , because it is, it is so important to have that representation wherever they have access. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. That’s awesome.
[00:24:34] Kara: I’m curious, how did you guys decide to go, like the puppetry route where you have your,
[00:24:40] Rachel: Puppet?
[00:24:41] Kathy: So, that’s an interesting question, , and I’ll answer that. So, okay. When, when we decided, so there’s a history of us doing, having been on television. Okay. 15 years ago when we, well, well probably 15, maybe a bit longer.
Cause the program’s about 27, 25 years old at this point. So early on we had an opportunity to do TV specials on the local cbs Now affiliate Channel 12 here in Cincinnati. And the idea was to create, educational piece, the subject educational television piece, which they premiered in primetime 7:00 PM of 30 minutes, utilizing our program.
And the whole idea was to create the performance. So that would be a, a video virtual episode. Right? Okay. Mm-hmm. , we did the first book that we ever did was called Heaven’s All Star Jazz Band, which is now out of print, one of the most beautiful illustrated books I’ve ever seen. You can find a copy on Amazon right now for like $500 and not a dime less, right?
Because it’s become a classic. Oh my gosh. You have several copies still left in hardbound. And any rate that was our first show, and our second one was The Little Creek, which we are in the process of trying to negotiate the publishing rights right now because we use it so much. It’s about a creek that’s been mishandled and all of the animals go away and the monarch.
Butterflies go away cuz it’s been trash pretty much. And kids come along and revive it. But we had the opportunity to do, take those two books and make two specials and we did that. The producer for those two specials, once I looked up and realized we were not gonna be able to go back into the schools and do our live performances for books for kids, because in the classroom they would read the book, they would do the craft, they would go over the vocabulary, they can do all the extra items that are out there associated with extra things you can do in the classroom around the book.
And by the fourth week we’d bring in a live show. So two things happened. One, I got a grant learning through art was awarded the Scripts, Howard Foundation, our literacy grant for a hundred thousand dollars Covid hit right as we were going to begin the program. Oh. So I had to call and ask could we shift the purpose of the grant or the use of the grant and the program that the grant would fund to creating streaming episodes.
And they agreed. . And that led me back to Zoe Wesson, our director. And I said, Zoe, I don’t have a lot of money. And I really, Google shows . And do you think, and it was middle of Covid, so they were still, people were still kind of filling out, you know, what’s the protocol if you’re gonna film something, you know ?
We couldn’t do what Tyler Perry did was to bring people on, quarantine them, make sure they were all alive. We couldn’t do all that. Yeah. But what we did do was to follow the rules as closely as possible. And that just meant very small crew.
So with a very small crew in our old office, we shot about three shows. , we did one show. We, those are the four versions. And then we have a mini version we shot behind our building here in Cincinnati. So we had to do that and. As it turned out, it worked out just fine. I mean, we ended up being able to create these episodes and it’s interesting because I’d been working with the Children’s Theater of Cincinnati to do the live performance.
Deandre Means had been working with me for several years, Deandre Means, and Kevin Bell had been teaching artists who came and worked with us to help us do what we needed to do. And we ultimately ended up I said to them, you know, I’m, I, we were on our path to, to create these new performances, but unfortunately we were not able to create them the way that I was used to creating them 10 years, 15 years ago, right?
Mm-hmm. , the high polished, no harm, no foul. I just wanted that back Zoe said, yes. We assembled a, an audit, a crew to do that. We did the first, first one, and then I met Karissa and Karissa became our other producer, or became our producer and brought all of the organization that needed to happen with it.
[00:28:48] Rachel: Thank God.
[00:28:48] Kathy: Thank God was not organized, but it was. It’s so much better now. And we still have a, a fairly small crew. So it’s amazing what we can do with a little bit of resources and you know, we’re, we’re, we’re able to now go to the people and say, Hey, look what we’ve done. Look what we have. This is where we’re going.
Would you like to partner? And that’s pretty much where we are right now. Just expanding our partner base. Yeah.
[00:29:13] Carissa: Very good. And Ms. Wade? I, I don’t know if you got into that, our Dear Puppet. Oh, I’m sorry. Quite as much, but that’s, but it’s also, it’s our logo. It’s the learning through art logo is an owl. So that’s been, and that’s been the case for the whole 31 years, Ms.
Wade, is that right?
[00:29:26] Kathy: Well, no, actually. Well, yes the owl has been but mm-hmm. , your point about the owl, I’m so sorry. The reason I bought It’s okay, so is because that’s how we got to the puppet. Mm-hmm. said to me as we started down this road, you should have a puppet . I
[00:29:39] Rachel: was like, really? , but you know what?
[00:29:42] Carissa: Ok, let’s go get a puppet.
Here’s the thing though. Here’s the thing guys. I wanna, this is, this is the kids coming out at Thanksgiving dinner. Dad says, when I talk to Zoe, I’ve heard him tell this same story many times. Our directors wea and he’ll be like, Kathy Wade came to me and was like, I’m getting a puppet. And I’m like, Kathy, you’re crazy.
So , either way, the root, the mystery of the origins of the puppet
[00:30:08] Rachel: aside.
[00:30:10] Carissa: I will say From my producer, brain Media, TV perspective, the beauty of the episodes that have been put together from, you know, the one that Ms. Wade was in progress when we met to the ones that we’ve done since, and her regional Emmy Award-winning brother is actually in several of the episodes. He’s incredibly talented. Rico Bruce Wade, and he has written some of the episodes. Many of the first ones especially that we worked on. And what they’ve been able to capture that we have run with is Paige.
The Owl is really it’s portrayed by an art teacher, which I can’t think of a better fit for that role, but she is the child, she is the eyes of the child in our program, and that’s how she is written and that’s how she is delivered, is that she flies in and you see Paige. So every and every episode is Ms.
Wade said, just like in person, we have a read along. So we read a beautiful picture book together. Picked for social emotional learning principles. And, and Kelly and Rachel are really building that beautiful library around all of that. And every book is very diverse, as Ms. Wade said, that shows you see yourself as a child.
Mm-hmm. , no matter your circumstance or the color of your skin in so many of these books and you learn a lot. So we’ve had everything from early education that we’ve done is shows the library is massive and beautifully curated. But we’ve done everything from Giraffes Can’t Dance, which was a favorite of my girls when they were teeny Wienies to Chris, which I know a lot of early education parents I know are like, I love that book so much.
Which Cuz talks about bullying and there’s an amazing teacher character in that to what we did last year is our. Most epic. Well, I mean we might have topped it this year actually, but at the time our most epic production was the sound that jazz makes. And it’s a book that traces the trajectory of jazz music all the way from Africa through slave ships, through field songs, through spirituals, through gospel, through rag time into modern day jazz, of course.
And then modern day rap, hip hop and soul music. So it’s, and it’s, and it’s a, it’s some big topics, but it’s portrayed in a way that kids can understand. And the pictures are gorgeous, but our show and the writing and the show leans into that so fantastically cuz Paige comes in and she’s that kid and she’s gonna have that.
We’re gonna, you know, no trademarking here, hopefully. But we all know that reading Rainbow experience and we get so much response of seeing someone hold a real physical book and turn the pages and read the words to the kids. They have that experience through Paige’s eyes as she sits there with a trusted adult who’s often a person of color, which we also love.
And in many of our cases is our writer, narrator, performer, Mr. Wade. So he is a man of color that gets to sit there and in his beautiful dulcet tones, read this book to Paige and have that experience and help her with some of those ideas. So the dialogue will be like, oh my gosh, this sounds kind of scary.
Or that that’s, that’s, that sounds awful. And we can stop and go, yeah, Paige, that’s not right, isn’t it? This is how we feel. And then we break vocabulary words out of there and then we’ll go do a craft. And in Chris’s case, it was a perfect fit cuz it’s a, it was a TIR that you wear to show that you’re against bullying.
I mean, these ladies have put it all together. They’ve made gold that literally. injected itself perfectly into being a television program, an app, a in-person performing arts experience. And it’s something, I think for all of those, it’s a performing arts program. You can go in this community and be a part of and go to these special events and get excited to do something special with your family.
But it’s also an interactive, multi-platform experience that has those tactile things. And, and by my measure, I don’t know of any other program that does that. You can have subscription programs, you get a book in the mail or you get an activity in, you know, in a subscription pack. But this is all of that plus an app, plus a show, plus if you have the privilege to be, to be able to access us.
Real live humans ballerinas actually performing to Misty Copeland’s Firebird book. You get the whole experience of this is the arts and the, and I’m quoting Ms. Wade here, and you can run with this. Cause I love it when you say it, it gives me chills. But the arts are for everyone. And that is the foundation of what she has done with this program.
And for little kids of any color, but also like us from rural wherever that maybe the school is their only access to knowing this whole world is out there. To be able to now give it to them through something that they’re all addicted to, like their phones or their tablet or where’s the, I can, I have iPad, can I screen time?
Lord have mercy on all of us. But to be able to give them that foundation through these new mediums is like, it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing. But all of the. Pieces for social emotional, for hitting people in their feelings and making them care. It’s already in there. Mm-hmm. . So that’s the thing. It’s, we’re not, we’re reverse engineering the things that matter instead of starting with a tech platform and trying to make the content worth the a darn.
Yeah. Well, yeah,
[00:35:37] Kara: no, and I love that processing piece
[00:35:39] Carissa: because sometimes
[00:35:41] Kara: that’s almost more important than just consuming the content in general. It’s like, okay, you can consume anything, but if they have questions or they’re not understanding or something does sound scary or whatever, they don’t have maybe sometimes the processing to understand why they might feel that way or what.
And I just love that.
[00:36:03] Carissa: That’s it.
[00:36:04] Rachel: You know, that’s another beautiful Yeah. Piece what Carisa was talking about with the app. It, it’s essentially taking the episodes. And breaking them into, you know, more snackable pieces. Mm-hmm. . But again, speaking of that, reverse engineering, it’s it, and, and, and it’s been wonderful to be a part of that journey and see how difference that, that experience is when we break it into those smaller chunks mm-hmm.
and have the, the educational journey to learn the vocabulary, to explore the social and emotional learning through these different venues of whether it’s line art activity or whether it’s, you know, popping the bubbles to identify letters and words and things like that. And it’s, it’s, it’s been extraordinary to see that same content sent through a different filter mm-hmm.
[00:36:58] Kathy: that it’s all
[00:36:59] Rachel: mm-hmm. books allowed for
[00:37:01] Kathy: kids. For kids. And, and I must say that the, the content piece the library that they are referring to is the online platform, which is actually how we started it. I realized that we had put together the study guides and the vocabulary and all of that, but what really struck me was just how Kelly was able to come in and truly embellish and add to and make our library even more relevant.
So it all seamlessly works together. You can go online and find your books. You can find all of our study guides. You can find the book pack plan. You can find I love the vocabulary because we translate into four languages just through the work that we’ve done as a lead agency recently at one of the largest schools in Cincinnati public school system.
Excuse me. Rachel actually joined us as the resource coordinator at that particular school, at that community learning center. And one of the battles that we, I shouldn’t say battle, but one of the things that we are so sensitive about is if you can’t communicate with your, your, your parents and your kids across all these countries, what are you doing?
Right? Mm-hmm. . So taking on that, I won’t say fight, but taking on that that role of trying to make the playing field even is exactly what Rachel did. And so one of the languages that they really needed to make permanent, they finally are recognizing, right? Yeah. But a difference that made, I mean, we ended up moving kids out of the ESL program.
I go, Rachel and the ESL people ended up moving kids out of the program, which is not It’s unheard of, right? Yeah. Simply by acknowledging we need to make sure
[00:38:45] Rachel: they see themselves and can talk
[00:38:47] Kathy: to us. Yeah. So we said there’s stuff that their parents don’t care. You’re not talking to ’em. That was the big thing.
So being able to be able, being able to capture that within our online platform is so I. I mean, it’s basically, I tell people all the time, you can go on, on our library, our, our online platform and click anything that you need. It’s designed one to make it very convenient for teachers, but even more so for families, for parents, and for kids.
[00:39:15] Carissa: Well, and I love it.
[00:39:17] Kara: Yeah. Well, and I, I just love, I think the thing I love the most too about it, with all the things combined is just the arts focus.
Because, you know, a lot of kids don’t get the exposure. They may not have it in school. They may not have the opportunity to experience things outside of school. and I, I just think that, I think they’re undervalued and, but very, very important. Mm-hmm. , because as you said, the arts are for everyone,
[00:39:46] Carissa: Well said, Kara.