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  FY 2005 Education Report Drama for Learning; Drama for Life
  Educational Theater Programs for Youth

Blue Apple’s program is a reflection of our long-standing commitment to making the magic of live theater a part of every child’s educational experience. We believe theater can change lives.

For many children - and their families - our program is their first exposure to live theater and provides opportunities to participate in theater education that otherwise they would not have. Support for those most at-risk allows these children and families to be full participants in the arts.

“I liked it because it made me laugh. It was just a great play. It was actually the first play I’ve seen.”

“If I hadn’t been in the Blue Apple youth theater I would still be sitting in the back of the classroom with no one to be friends with or to talk to.”
A middle school boy

Drama for Learning; Drama for Life programs range from an in-depth residency to increase academic achievement for every student at Western Middle School (92% at risk) to helping teenage girls write and perform their own play about teen pregnancy to interactive storytelling workshops for elementary students

Program Highlights: FY 2005

  • 78% of teaching hours were dedicated to in-depth theater residencies in schools and community centers, with the remainder of teaching time almost evenly divided between introductory theater experiences and workshops that typically average 5 hours in teaching time.
  • 39 new sites participated in programs, with a 56% increase in the number of children served.
  • Blue Apple continued to deepen literacy-building components in all theater programs. Examples include: students writing their own play (Lincoln Elementary), writing their own short stories (Byck Elementary), keeping theater journals (Farnsley Middle) and participating in theatrical storytelling programs at Family Literacy Nights (Blue Lick and Jacob Elementary).
  • Blue Apple expanded its extensive evaluation process by convening an end-of-year conversation with education partners and participants called “Exploring the Value of Drama in Education.” Over thirty educators, parents, donors, and students attended to evaluate and strengthen programming. A DVD is available.
  • Programs continue to produce significant, measurable results. For example: at Western Middle School, students in our program show a 74% increase on recent standardized tests. An elementary teacher reported one student moving from “unsatisfactory” in every area to “outstanding” after his involvement with Blue Apple. These are just a few examples of documented positive changes in behavior and academic achievement.
  • 100% of teachers attending the Archdiocese Summer Professional Development gave the Blue Apple workshop the highest rating available. All said they learned new strategies to change their classroom teaching.
  • Programs included collaboration with Clarksville, Indiana and Louisville Metro Parks, Louisville Free Public Library, Walden Theater, the Kentucky Theater, Kentucky Center, and the Jewish Community Center.
  • Blue Apple expanded the involvement of individual artists. As part of the 8th Grade residency at Western Middle School, Blue Apple invited dance artist Antoinette Crawford Willis to teach students dances of the Harlem Renaissance as part of preparations to attend the Derby Dinner production of Ain’t Misbehavin’. Visual artist Stu Cox worked with Lincoln Elementary students on set design
  • Blue Apple programs reached 12,203 youth pre-school to high school from every zip code in Metro Louisville. Of these, 5,464 students participated in Drama for Learning; Drama for Life programs. Over 6,739 students also attended educational musicals. Touring productions of Blue Apple musicals reached over 90,000 more students throughout a 10 state area.

Drama Works!

Numerous research studies for over 25 years document that disadvantaged students’ involvement in theater arts leads to gains in reading proficiency, motivation, and higher levels of empathy and tolerance for others. These skills were more evident in theater arts participants than for other arts areas. (J. Catterall, UCLA) We are seeing such results with our program.

Blue Apple Players has been at the forefront of evaluation of its programs with published studies as early as 1993 on the power of its musicals to change attitudes and behavior of youth. In our program evaluation, there were four key areas where we believe our theater education program will help. These include:

      • Understanding theater/acting - 89% responded, yes it helped
      • Doing work in other classes (writing, thinking, etc.) - 92% indicated it helped
      • Communication Skills (written & verbal, creativity) - 96% responded, yes it helped
      • Working with others/cooperation skills - 98% responded, yes.

Blue Apple’s extensive evaluation process uses participant surveys (students, educators, and family), standardized test data as available, and ongoing conversations with participants to guide continuous program improvement and effectiveness. The process also incorporates the 40 Developmental Assets - the standard for youth programs nationwide. Dr. Pedro Portes, Chair for the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Louisville and Richard Lichvar, Research Analyst at US Bank help Blue Apple with its evaluation design and the analysis of data. (Some year-end evaluation data is continuing to be analyzed by Mr. Lichvar and will be added to an updated report in August.)

This year, as a result of conversations with one of our Foundation partners, Blue Apple developed a new evaluation component that gathered educators, students, donors (individual, corporate, government, foundation), and parents to discuss the impact of these programs, the challenges, and areas for improvement. All participants wish this to become an annual event. This is the type of partnership that has ensured an effective program, which is a process of continuous improvement.

What students, teachers, and parents have to say………

“I learned that I have good leadership qualities. I think I have come to respect people more and judge them on their actions instead of what they might look like. Most important, though, I’ve made some new friends and had some new experiences that hopefully, will stay with me forever.”
Middle School Student

“I learned that in New York during the 20s-30s it wasn’t all about the mafia. It was a poetic age. Women actually got the right to vote and Langston Hughes made beautiful yet weird poems.”
Student, Farnsley Middle School

“The culminating project, Clarksdale: Our Neighborhood, and the documentary piece were phenomenal. The students are more cooperative in the classroom. They continue to exhibit the connectedness to one another that was borne during the project.”
Sonya Unseld, Principal

Observing the process of one student in the acting group after the Clarksdale project: “This student had gotten all U’s (unsatisfactory) first semester and now he has O’s (outstanding) and A’s!”
Sarah Reed, Teacher

“After Storytime, the children wanted to see if the school library had an Anansi book to read. They were talking about the story the rest of the day and next day.”
Teacher, St. Albert

This student has serious emotional problems and usually withdraws altogether - or acts out. However, during Blue Apple classes, he volunteered to perform or lead or answer questions.”
Teacher, Western Middle School

I’ve learned to use some of Blue Apple’s drama techniques in my work with parents.”
Frances Royster, Lincoln Elementary

“…She credits her teacher with the Blue Apple Players, with helping her to appreciate the idea of developing suspense in a short story. Ms. Mapother has caused her to delight in the creative process and to see that it is a process - not an assignment with rigid limits. But most striking is her realization that her ideas are important and there is value in expressing herself either aloud or on paper.”
Middle School Parent



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