I need to start with an apology.  I know I haven’t been blogging for months at a time.  I’m such a social media person that I’m posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  It’s hard to believe we are entering into the third month of 2016. February was cold but March seems to be coming in like a lamb, at least in Virginia. I’ve just enjoyed almost 3 weeks at home, the longest stretch of time since November 2014. The time has not been idle and there are some very exciting projects in the works.
Many of you are deeply involved in these projects because you understand the value, the impact of the arts in your communities. And you recognize the power of the arts as a catalyst for social change. Because a large segment of my work is focused on individuals with disabilities, I’m often asked, “What’s in it for you?” Those of you with whom I’ve had the privilege of working, you “get it” – you appreciate the sheer joy that these individuals and their families receive from your willingness to reach out and include them in a world they rarely glimpse. It is beyond magical – it is miraculous!
It was a honor to be asked to speak at the Teach for America 25th Anniversary Summit held in Washington, D.C. in early February.  More than 15,000 teachers from all across the country converged on the Convention Center in the nation’s capital to explore the theme – Together We Rise.  It was a wonderful opportunity to share Hocus Focus with educators who want to make a difference!
These educators are committed to making a difference inside and outside the classroom by providing students of all abilities the skills to achieve. Arts-Integration allows these students to shine! I presented an interactive workshop for teachers who work with “diverse learners” – students with a variety of development and/or intellectual challenges.
From Washington, D.C. to Iowa City, IA, the “magic” never stopped!  I love working with Chuck Swanson at Hancher Auditorium. He’s truly one of the most inspiring people I know – and his love for the arts makes an impression of everything he does.  Chuck and I visited several schools across the state of Iowa working with 8th graders on a project titled, “CPR in the Classroom” – create, perform, and reflect. I developed this interactive classroom experience specifically for Chuck as a follow up to a visual art project he brought to the schools in 2014. The article above captures our last school visit in Maquoketa, IA.
My next stop in February was to the much warmer temperatures of Texas! Several years ago, the Lutcher Theatre booked our full theatrical illusion production as a part of their series. This time, I returned for a Residency that included 6-hour Professional Development Training for special educators in the school district (above). The following day, I visited many of the classrooms of the teachers who attended the training to demonstrate “theory to practice.” I love working with Lynae Sanford and Jim Clarke!
I’ve been spending a great deal of time on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan over the last 18 months. Todd Holmberg (McCain Auditorium), Col. Art DeGroat (Office of Military Affairs), the College of Education, and Hocus Focus, Inc. are about to embark on a most exciting adventure to re-imagine education and the transformative power of the artsin the lives of veterans and special education students. This collaboration will ripple across the country, changing lives and providing opportunities for social re-integration for today’s veterans. Stay tuned – there’s a lot more to come!
In Summer 2016, we will be returning to Uganda to continue the work we are doing there. Currently, We are raising money to drill another clean water well in Uganda, this time in the village of Kodiata. Clean water is a necessity. In Uganda, every problem and every answer begins with clean water.
Please watch the video and share it with as many friends as you can!
Donations to this cause can be made HERE.