2017 Arts & Academic Classes/Workshops

Fall Semester Homeschool Classes (Aug. - Dec.)

Unique arts and humanities classes to enrich your homeschooler’s education. Offered to ages 5-18 and held at our partner location, The Stage Door, in East Plano. A lunch and study area is avaliable to students who have breaks between classes.

2017 Fall Class Schedule

PARENTS: After registering, please print, complete and sign the following documents for you and your child(ren). Paperwork MUST be turned in before a student may attend classes. Students without required paperwork on the first day of class will not be able to participate. Thank you!

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.
Learn more >

Comics as Literature

Geared towards students wishing to improve their skills in structured reading, this fun and engaging course will explore concepts of theme, character, plot, tone, and more to help develop essential reading skills that can be applied to any literary study.
Learn more >

Give & Take: A Dramatic Comedy in Two Acts (Production)

Give and Take is an exciting collection of stories from around the world dealing with generosity and greed and offers a unique challenge to student actors and director. Each tale is simply and beautifully dramatized using different theatrical techniques.
Learn more >

Stage Makeup and Combat

The perfect introduction to stage makeup and stage combat. Classes will alternate weekly between these two exciting theatrical arts. Scenes incorporating makeup and combat techniques will be developed at the end of the semester.
Learn more >

About Us

Arts & Minds is an arts and education 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to empower individuals to use their knowledge and talents for enriching themselves and their community.

We envision communities where the arts and education are the building blocks to creating a better world.

Arts & Minds was created to provide an inclusive, welcoming environment for diverse students to engage in the arts and humanities and to help individuals discover their unique capacities and talents, gain knowledge, develop skills for self-expression, build character and contribute positively to their community.

Our goal is for every student to realize their potential for making a meaningful impact on the local and global community through the arts and education.

We seek out dynamic, talented instructors to offer classes, workshops and seasonal camps to young people through homeschool and after-school programs.

Our Staff

Valarie Atwood - Executive Director/Instructor

Valarie Atwood serves as Executive/Artistic Director for Arts & Minds and has been an educator for over 25 years. Her love for arts and education integration and the theatre inspired her to establish Arts & Minds. Previously, she founded Homeschoolers East Co-op where she fulfilled a variety of administrative roles on the Steering Committee for 10 years while teaching various subjects to a wide span of age groups. Before homeschooling, she developed the Virtue Of the Week (VOW) program and was a founding member of KIDPROV®, an arts-in-education improvisational comedy troupe, working with over 300,000 students and teachers throughout the U.S.

Valarie integrates her extensive knowledge and unique application of improv, creativity, problem solving and team building skills into each class she teaches whenever possible. Some organizations she has worked with include Destination Imagination, Gifted & Talented trainings, Big Thought, Artsmart, the Dallas Theatre Center Teen/Children's Theatre, Dallas Children's Theatre, Brookhaven College, Northlake College, the YMCA and Girl's Inc. Valarie attended Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts in St. Louis, MO where she majored in theatre arts and is a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts of Houston, TX.

 

Jen Palmieri - Administrative Director

Jen Palmieri has homeschooled her two children, now teens, from the start. Jen seeks to provide a well-rounded, transcript-worthy high school experience for her children while they take classes alongside their friends. As a Co-Founder of Homeschoolers East co-op, she and her family enjoyed 10 years of classes and memorable experiences. She served on HSE's Steering Committee as Treasurer for 6 years, Class Coordinator for 2, and taught and assisted in a variety of academic classes including, philosophy, crafts, 3 years dedication to WordMasters Challenge competitions and fulfilling the role as Stage Manager, Costumer and Crew Manager for many of HSE’s performances and productions.

Jen graduated with a BA in Business Management from Baruch College in NYC. She spent several years managing people in the customer service industry and moved to Dallas in 1994 when she transferred her position with Prudential Securities, Inc. Jen’s interest in her own children’s education and happiness along with her genuine love for all children and a pursuit of excellence in academics make her a valued asset to Arts & Minds.

 

Abbie Reedy - Marketing Director/Instructor

Abbie Reedy is a freelance writer and editor whose decades-long affair with the English language has resulted in an intimate understanding of English grammar and usage and an aggressive eagerness to assist others in crafting, improving, and perfecting their own writing.

She studied first Journalism, then English Literature at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she received a BA in Postcolonial Literature in 2005. After college, she taught a year of English Literature and Writing at a Chinese university, then spent six years in Haifa, Israel, serving as a Research and Drafting Assistant in the Department of the Secretariat of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the worldwide Bahá’í community.

She has since undertaken a number of writing and editing projects, including blog articles, website content, and the editing of a 100-page academic paper for publication as an ebook, and spent about a year working full-time as the Content Specialist for a boutique content marketing agency.

She is currently editing a Young Adult novel, providing guidance on college admissions essays for international students, writing digital copy for various clients, and working on her own fiction.

 

Brianna Williams - Instructor

Brianna Williams is a dancer in the DFW area who travels to different dance festivals across the country to perform and take workshops with instructors from around the world. She has been dancing since the age of 4, took ballet, jazz, and hip hop at Janie Christi School of Dance and Rowlett Dance Academy and performed in the Moscow Ballet's production of the Russian Nutcracker at the age of 10. Brianna was part of the dance program at Lakeview Centennial High School, was in drill team and took classes in modern, contemporary, pom, military, and Bollywood dancing.

In 2012, Brianna started learning Latin social dances which include Salsa, Bachata, Cumbia, Merengue, and Cha Cha Cha when she lived in Austin, Texas. In the years following, Brianna has learned Kizomba/Tarraxhina, Semba, Brazillian Zouk, Afro-Rhythms, Afro-Beats, Kuduro, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, and Tango. Brianna is currently part of Rhythm & Beatz Dance Company based in Los Angeles under the direction of Lola Monet aka Lola Queen Beatz.

She is in the process of completing her Associates Degree at Eastfield Community College and intends to transfer to the University of Texas for both Dance and Sociology. Brianna continues social dancing and performing her solo at various venues across Dallas. She is excited to be working with the team at Arts & Minds and is determined to make sure students receive a quality and safe dance experience.

 

Amanda Sevak - Instructor

Amanda Sevak earned her Bachelor of Science in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has over 20 years of experience working and volunteering in education and the performing arts. She has worked in nonprofit administration for Rotary International and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer bringing arts enrichment to an inner city school in Chicago. Her international teaching experience, which includes India and China, stretches from pre-school to adults and encompasses subjects such as music, dance, drama, special education, and English.

Amanda's voice can be found on two musical albums: one with her college a cappella group, Significant Others, and, most recently, on an original children’s album, A Day in the Park, that she co-wrote and produced with her band, humdiddle.

Additionally, her background in dance is extensive, including over 20 years of dance training and 5 years of teaching various dance classes and creative movement. She has studied tap, jazz, modern, ballet and world dance styles (such as Bollywood, Bhangra, and African) and has significant performance and choreography experience. She believes everyone can dance and enjoys helping others discover the joy of expression and unity through movement.

The mother of identical twin girls, she is learning to play the ukulele and loves to sit by the water writing in her journal – the paper kind.

Amanda taught A Cappella Group in the Spring 2017 semester and is thrilled to be a part of Arts & Minds. She looks forward to inspiring students as well as being inspired by them.

 

Jen Wagnon - Instructor

Jennifer Wagnon started homeschooling her oldest daughter in 1999. Her two daughters have since gone on to be full-time college students, and Jennifer is now homeschooling her son for high school. As a military family the Wagnons moved many times while homeschooling, living in a total of 7 states and one other country.

Jennifer strives to take best advantage of every place they live, absorbing local history and culture while balancing those experiences with solid traditional school work. Jennifer studied literature at the University of Oklahoma and has taught a variety of literature and poetry classes in co-ops from North Carolina to Hawaii and in between. She has served as a Poetry Out Loud local homeschool coordinator for 4 different competitions.

Now that she is part of a retired military family that has settled down, she looks forward to seeing students grow their confidence in public speaking through poetry.

 

Our Gallery

2017 Fall Semester Class Details

Poetry Out Loud
Mon, 8/28 - 12/4
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Ages 14 - 18
$225.00 (Supplies cost included)
Instructor: Jen Wagnon

Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Students will study forms of poetry, learn about the life of poets and learn to write poetry. They will learn to perform poetry as an art form. Emphasis, projection and other ways to interpret and insert emotion into poetry read aloud will be explored.

Students will prepare to compete in the Poetry Out Loud competition, a spoken word poetry competition with a national scholarship prize. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship. The state winner's school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.

Student Skills Needed/Required: This is a high school level level competition for students grades 9-12. Students shall participate in performance events, although the competition is not a required part of the class. Those participating in the competition will have additional practice meet-ups between the end of the semester and the Texas competition held in February (Date/Location TBA).


Comics as Literature
Mon, 8/28 - 12/4
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Ages 8 - 18
$125.00 (Supplies cost included)
Instructor: Abbie Reedy

Comic book, graphic novel and Manga fans will become familiar with the building blocks of literature by studying its core elements as they appear in these fictional works. Geared towards students wishing to improve their skills in structured reading, this fun and engaging course will explore concepts of theme, character, plot, tone, and more to help develop essential reading skills that can be applied to any literary study.

Student Skills Needed/Required: Basic reading skills, desire to learn and improve reading skills, interest in comics. Copies of comics will be provided.


Give & Take: A Dramatic Comedy in Two Acts (Production)
Mon-Wed, 8/28 - 12/4
12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Ages 8 - 12
$275.00 (Supplies cost included)
Instructor: Valarie Atwood

Give and Take is an exciting collection of stories from around the world dealing with generosity and greed and offers a unique challenge to student actors and director. Each tale is simply and beautifully dramatized using different theatrical techniques. The hilarious Bantu tale, Anasi Finds a Fool, uses story-theatre, while Peter and the Hat, a traditional tale from Puerto Rico, is presented in mime, and Japan's hauntingly beautiful The Crane Wife, employs masked actors. These are only a few of the inspiring stories presented in Give and Take. Performed with minimal scenery, costume pieces and props, this play inspires the audience's imagination and takes them on a multi-cultural exploration!

In this class, students will develop performance skills, learn how to become responsive to their fellow actors, discover the basic rules of storytelling through a variety dramatic styles and expand their own creative and artistic possibilities while exploring cultural tales from around the world.Students will have the opportunity to perform two matinees and one evening performance open to the public. (subject to change)

Student Skills Needed/Required: Acting experience helpful, but not required. Students should have desire to perform on stage, ability to memorize lines, interest in learning and developing acting abilities/skills. All students will be cast. Auditions will be held in order to assign parts. Some actors will be double-cast. Commitment to classes, scene partners, rehearsals, tech week and performances required. Additional rehearsals may be scheduled based on need. Students will need to supply some basic common costume pieces, when possible.

Tech/Dress Rehearsals: ALL ACTORS - Wed. Nov. 29 (12:30-3:30), SOME ACTORS - Thurs. Nov. 30 (12:30-3:30)Performance dates (subject to change): Fri. Dec. 1 (1:30pm), Fri. Dec. 1 (7:00pm), Sat. Dec. 2 (1:30pm)


Stage Makeup and Combat
Fri, 9/1 - 12/8
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Ages 12 - 18
$200.00 (Supplies cost included)
Instructor: Valarie Atwood

The perfect introduction to stage makeup and stage combat. Classes will alternate weekly between these two exciting theatrical arts. Starting with the basics, including makeup safety, hygiene, application, shading, and study of face shapes and bone structure, students will progress into age makeup followed by techniques for creating special effects like wounds, scars and burns and finally their own fantasy creations. Students will receive a Mehron “Mini-Pro” Stage Makeup Kit of their own and assemble a makeup morgue full of photos for character reference. Additionally, this class will explore the basics of unarmed stage combat and learn how to perform some of the more simple “tricks of the trade”, including the slap, punch, strangle, hairpull, bite and kick. The importance of safety involved will also be discussed. Scenes incorporating makeup and combat techniques will be developed at the end of the semester.

Student Skills Needed/Required: Must not be allergic or have sensitivities to makeup and skin care products. Students will be required to supply their own mirror, hair care products and washcloths. Students should wear clothing appropriate for movement and contact with makeup.