Spring Branch teacher gets surprise funding that helps students engage in art

A Landrum Middle School drama teacher has found a way to further help her students engage in the performing arts at a school where many students do not have the opportunity to learn acting outside of the classroom.

Keenan Chiasson, now in second year teaching at SBISD College, began a project on donorschoose.org apply for funds for a “script library” – a dedicated place in your classroom for students to have regular access to drama scripts. This is the second year that Landrum offers a theater arts program and the first year that the school is in its new building.

“We’re in our brand new building, we have this amazing facility, and I have these amazing shelves in my office and everything is awesome,” Chiasson said.

To her surprise, the $ 656 project was funded overnight by a single donor named “Natasha,” a former Landrum teacher and student who wrote that they wanted to take on acting while they attended.

“I would often like to take the path of drama, but alas, I was too shy. Go ahead with these funds and inspire the future of theater, ”Natasha wrote.

Chiasson started teaching in Landrum last year while the school was still in its old building. Chiasson said he taught in what was the school’s metallurgy workshop before he had a formal classroom.

According to Chiasson, the students he teaches live in disadvantaged socio-economic areas and often have no formal exposure to the world of the performing arts.

Chiasson learned to teach with what he could. He retired many of his scripts at home and used the school library as much as he could, but it still wasn’t enough – he needed class setup scripts.

Instead of going through the formal process in the district, he took charge and started the project.

“My students are part of an under-represented part of Houston schools where diversity and inclusion are major points of contention. Our budding drama program is an area where my students can express themselves fully and engage in juicy texts that propel their socio-emotional growth, ”Chiasson wrote.

“For many of my students, the performing arts are a key that will continue to open doors of limitless opportunity for the rest of their lives. “

He created a list of titles that he thought the class would like to learn and some that he needed to learn.

Some of the titles include A Raisin in the Sun, Spinning In Butter, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Serious, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and basic theater manuals.

It only took four days after the project was set up when Chiasson received an email informing him that his project is fully funded by one donor.

“Landrum never had an optional theater project,” Chiasson said, “so now that I’m the one building this program, it’s really cool to see the support from alumni.”

According to Chiasson, his funded project was received positively by school administrators.

Now that he’s in his new building with a furnished classroom, Chiasson expects the scripts to arrive in just a few weeks.

“In December, we will be putting together a thank you package for Natasha so they can see pictures of us using the resources that have been so kindly given to us and put together a little thank you note,” Chiasson said.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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