Friday, October 19, 2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership helps build connections

By Audrey Siegler, Patel Conservatory theater instructor
Audrey Siegler, right, leads a Patel Conservatory Outreach theater class
On teaching Outreach classes
As students and followers of the Patel Conservatory, many of you are familiar with our mission and vision, to provide the finest performing arts training in an inspirational setting and to give students the tools to: dream, reach, discover and create the performing arts; integrate them into everyday life; and contribute to the community.

As you walk through our building you can feel those principles coming to life through our students, staff and patrons, but what you may not know is that the Conservatory’s mission and vision reach far beyond these walls. 

Through community partnerships we are able to take our philosophies into the community and bring the gift of the performing arts to schools and organizations that may not otherwise be reached by the arts. Serving as teachers, mentors and colleagues, we are able to not only educate, but also create new paths and desire for the arts.

It has been my great pleasure to be such an active part in our outreach program over the past 4 years. Having grown up as the daughter of two teachers, I have always valued education. I learned at an early age that we have a great deal to offer as individuals and that every student can learn if given the proper tools and encouragement. I enjoy working with students of all ages and backgrounds and our outreach program has provided me with an amazing opportunity to do just that. My students have ranged in age from toddler to adult and come from various backgrounds and life situations. Each outreach is unique, but our goal remains the same.

Big Brothers Big Sisters
This year the Patel Conservatory has embarked on a new partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). Much like us, BBBS is focused on changing lives. Their mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Our common goals provide us with a great foundation.

After two meetings, it is already apparent that this is a successful pairing. The outreach allows school aged students (the little) and their adult partner (the big) to deepen their bond through theater and performance.

Once a month we meet at Aspire Studios in Ybor which provides the perfect atmosphere to promote creativity and togetherness. The pairs from the BBBS organization are led through various theater lessons and exercises. These lessons are geared towards promoting ensemble building and trust between not only the group, but between the big and little.  This is quickly becoming one of my favorite outreaches thanks to the energy and commitment of the group. Together we are learning how to be there for one another and fully embrace the arts.

As an educator and a strong believer in the impact that a person can have on another’s life, I feel truly honored to be able to share the mission of the Patel Conservatory with such a deserving and responsive group of individuals. Observing change and connection is a precious thing, but playing an active part in developing trust and a lasting bond is priceless.

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