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Drama for Schools (DFS) has a long standing presence in the Victoria Independent School District (VISD). Victoria is located in southeast Texas, approximately 125 miles south of Austin. VISD has a total enrollment of just over 13,700 students, with half of its students eligible for Title 1 funding. Victoria is an ethnically diverse and growing community with strong local support for the arts.
Drama for Schools began in the district in 2005 as Imagine Safer Schools (ISS). Starting in 2007, the core of the VISD-DFS relationship was our professional development program for teachers and administrators that emphasized ongoing, job-embedded practice. For example, in a given school year, DFS teachers participated in several full-day workshops and after-school trainings that focused on how teachers can use the drama-based instructional strategies to activate learning in their classrooms. A unique and valuable component of the VISD model was the opportunity for DFS drama specialists to collaborate with teachers in their own classrooms, working with both teachers and students to apply the strategies learned in the workshops and training sessions.
Because of its success in raising student achievement, VISD embraced DFS as one of the main professional development programs across the district, spanning all content areas from math to science to foreign languages to visual arts. VISD teachers from elementary through high school campuses have participated in th DFS professional development program. In 2007-2009, DFS partnered with 50 secondary classroom teachers across 4 campuses. In total, we have implemented over 80 training and residency days for over 150 teachers across all subject areas, ultimately serving over 2,000 students.
In its fifth year in VISD, DFS sought ways to sustain and continue the growth in activated learning in VISD classrooms. The goal of DFS in this phase of our partnership with VISD was to help put into place infrastructure that would build capacity within the district to continue the DFS program model. In 2009 we piloted two new initiatives: the Summer Institute and to Master Trainer program. In collaboration with DFS staff, these Master Trainers provided support to their colleagues through continued workshops and one-on-one peer mentorship. The DFS program design offered continued feedback, reflection, and development of strategies with VISD as it shaped its own future as a DFS model district.
In 2010 and 2011, VISD teachers attended the 2010 and 2011 Summer Institutes. DFS staff provided ongoing support to the VISD Trainer-of-Trainers as they facilitated professional development for colleagues during the school year. Currently, the DFS and VISD partnership focuses on long-term sustainability of drama-based instruction in the district and sharing the outcomes of our joint research partnership at local, state, national and international conferences and in our publications.