Watson Elementary Technology Center of Math and Science Helps FYL!

Nov 20 2014

Miss Todd’s energetic class of kindergarteners from Watson Elementary School in Texas decided to have a cookie bake sale to benefit FYL. All proceeds were donated to the “Harmony Project” in Los Angeles. Josh sent lots of pizza over last week with a personal video message to say thanks for their hard work! Check out a video Miss Todd sent from their party!

 Here are some pictures too!

Josh visits Chalmers Elementary School!

Nov 11 2014
Welcome Josh!

Welcome Josh!

Check out Josh’s first visit to Chalmers Elementary School, a low-income school he adopted for a partnership with Turnaround Arts, and a school supported by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL)!

Turnaround Arts is a national program by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in coordination with the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama, the U.S. Department of Education and several foundations, to bring arts education programing and resources to the highest-poverty, lowest-performing elementary and middle schools in the country. It is based on the premise that high-quality and integrated arts education can strengthen school reform efforts, boost academic achievement and increase student engagement in schools facing some of the toughest educational challenges in the country.

Turnaround Arts currently works in 35 schools across the country, in 25 school districts and 11 states. As part of Turnaround Arts, PCAH and its partners provide these schools an array of arts education services, resources and materials designed to increase their chances of success, engage their community and raise the visibility of their achievements. Key to these efforts is building arts education programming that is rigorous, effective and integrated into the school, as well strategically used to target larger school challenges. The program works closely with each of the schools throughout the year to help them plan and implement their programming and ensure its quality and impact.

Each school in the Turnaround Arts network receives:

Josh and Tim Sheldon, Principal of Chalmer School of Excellence

Josh and Tim Sheldon, Principal of Chalmer School of Excellence

  • The designation of a high-profile artist who will work with the school to increase student and community engagement and promote local visibility for the school;
  • Arts supplies, licensing rights for school musicals and musical instruments;
  • A national summer conference for school teams;
  • Funding to bring local teaching artists, community arts education and cultural organizations to work in the school;
  • Training in using the arts to aid school improvement, including best practices, case studies and model lessons;
  • In-school professional development in arts integration during the school year;
  • An annual 5 Essentials school improvement survey tool administered by the University of Chicago; and
  • A summative research evaluation of the program after each year.

Interim evaluation results on the pilot phase of Turnaround Arts schools showed that participating schools demonstrate improved academic performance, increased student and parent engagement and improved culture and climate, often outperforming comparable schools in their district or state.

Watch Josh visit with the students at Chalmers Elementary School!

The Academy for Urban School Leadership is a Chicago nonprofit school management organization that creates schools of excellence by developing highly effective teachers and transforming educational outcomes for students in the lowest performing schools. AUSL was founded in 2001 and today manages 32 Chicago Public Schools serving more than 18,000 students. Over 750 teachers have graduated from the AUSL Chicago Teacher Residency. Chalmers School of Excellence is lucky to be one of the schools supported by Academy for Urban School Leadership.

An update from Young Shakespeare Workshop and Message from Josh!

Nov 03 2014

Happy November!!!

It is with great pleasure that we share an update from a group we have worked with over the years from the Seattle area known as the Young Shakespeare Workshop. The Find Your Light Foundation made a donation to the Young Shakespeareans Workshop in the amount of $3,000 at the end of 2013. This money was put entirely into an after-school performance project at Cleveland High School in Seattle (a low-income public high school which has no theatre department). The project began in October 2013 and concluded in May of 2014. The Not As You Like It project was centered on Shakespeare’s As You Like It.  After making some cuts to the text and adding some additional creative layers, a grand performance was seasoned and ready to be shared with an audience; with the help of Find Your Light and some outside grants, these students were able to collaborate an incredible 143 times for rehearsals and preparations before their final production.


A Message From Josh: 
I am so happy that this unusual and inspiring adaptation of such a great play was made possible by FYL and YSW. It’s the collaborations like this that make out of the box creative thinking a reality and I look forward to hearing about what you cook up next!!

Below are some of the comments received from the teacher and the actors!

From Catalin:fyl3
I’m a junior in high school and I had a wonderful experience with the Young Shakespeare workshop… I was really scared that I wouldn’t do well on stage but after being with the crew and our amazing coach Darren, things started to really settle down and went easy… This program is one of the best… I had a wonderful experience with the Young Shakespeare Workshop.

From Darren Lay, actor, teacher, and director of young students:
The project Not As You Like It was centered on Shakespeare’s As You Like It. We imagined a young woman in a psychiatric ward imagining herself as Celia from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. She in turn imagined that Celia had not in fact escaped fylto the Forest of Arden but was captured with Rosalind, her best friend and banished cousin. She further imagined that Rosalind had been executed as was threatened and that Celia, the daughter of the Duke, was then institutionalized. Our patient imagined herself as Celia imagining what would have happened if she and Rosalind had escaped.

Our version began with a single wedding dress eerily suspended at the center of a fyl7darkened bare stage. As music plays, the dress rises up revealing the young patient striding forward from behind it to the front edge of the stage where she slams down a large book (a complete works of Shakespeare) abruptly halting the music and begins the play with Rosalind’s line “Love is merely a madness, and I tell you deserves as well a dark house, and a whip, as madmen do…”

We are very proud of how the project turned out, and we thank FYL so much for making it possible, without your gift of support it would simply not have happened.

From Brittany:
Being a part of the Young Shakespeare Workshop’s production of Not As You like It was an experience I will cherish forever… I learned so much about Shakespeare and word play through this time. Peradventure is now one of my favorite words! I learned what it meant to take normal reactions and moments and make them huge! That definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’m really glad it did because it showed me a side of myself I never knew I had. This experience reminded me how much I love acting and introduced me to another big love of mine and that is putting a production together and watching (or being a part of it) it all come together. I’m so thankful for this experience. I love the people I got to work with, they were amazing and an amazing support system especially during some hard times; I’m glad I now call them friends. I am so thankful for the experience because I not only grew as an actor and learned more about the art. But it created great friends for me and helped shape parts of myself that of course makes me the person I am today.

Detailed Project Summary From YSW:
Not As You Like It was a one-hour (perfect for in-class performances) “deconstruction” of Shakespeare’s As You Like It… A student suggested an idea which became the framing device for our project which proved actually very revealing of the text and creatively satisfying. This was to build on the idea of disguise and layers of identity, already complicated enough in the original play, by constructing our cut and presentation of the text as seen through the perspective of a patient in a mental institution who imagines herself as Celia from As You Like It–but as a Celia that is caught in her escape to the Forest of Arden and in turn herself institutionalized (her cousin and best friend Rosalind executed as an enemy of the state) and is now imagining what might have happened had she been successful in running away to Arden.


Artistically, we were able to achieve one of the highest levels of excellence in performance with our veteranperformers as well as our newcomers. Three performances were given during the school day and one evening performance open to the public, family, friends, and parents. Cast members were very excited and of course somewhat terrified…fyl5

From Ally:
I had the best time of my life in the Young Shakespeare Workshop. I love Shakespeare with all of me and I would want to always be a part of it. Thanks a lot for the experiences…

Young Shakespeare Workshop, for sharing in this success! Your work and dedication is inspiring!!! To learn more about the Young Shakespeare Workshop or to discover ways you can help, click HERE!