act EXTRA! EXTRA! MIDDLE SCHOOL CIVICS COMES ALIVE THROUGH AN INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP OF ARTS AND ACADEMICS.
BY DANA S. EAGLES
op quiz: What’s the most entertaining way to teach civics, the required seventh-grade class perhaps most notorious for its earnest discussions of how a bill becomes a law? One answer, as Dawn Dunham learned, is by involving her students in splashy musicals. Dunham connected her classroom at Maitland Middle School to the stage at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in a two-year project that enlivened mandatory lessons about politics, government and citizenship. In June, Dunham’s collaboration with Dana Brazil, director of education at the arts center, won her the Broadway League’s Educator Apple Award. This commercial-theater trade group, founded in 1930, recognized just three educators nationwide for their creative partnerships with venues that present touring Broadway shows.
During two seasons of the FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ series, Dunham and Brazil helped students experience civics in new ways through the stories and songs of Newsies and The Sound of Music, both of which were staged at the Walt Disney Theater.
During Newsies, youngsters attended performances and, dressed in newsboy caps, sold copies of newspapers they produced to raise money for charity. The musical, inspired by the newsboys’ strike of 1899, deals with themes of child labor and the power of organized dissent. WINTER 2016 | artsLife