Austin College Grad Students Lead Summer Learning Adventure

Austin College | Sherman Texas | July 15, 2017

SISD elementary students explore India

This summer marks the 15-year collaboration between the Austin College Austin Teacher Program (ATP) and Sherman Independent School District to offer Thinking Camp to the Gifted and Talented elementary students in the district.

Austin College Teacher ProgramThinking Camp is a program dually designed to give ATP graduate students an opportunity to develop teaching skills and provide a rich learning experience for area elementary students. The annual program is coordinated by Dr. Julia Shahid,  Austin College Education Department Head and associate professor of education, and Cyndi Petray, SISD gifted and talented teacher.

“We are thrilled to have this partnership with the Sherman ISD that exemplifies a win-win for all involved,” said Shahid. “The elementary students have the opportunity for a rich hands-on and minds-on learning. Simultaneously, Austin College students have their first opportunity to run their own class for two weeks as they work with a teammate to accomplish things that a classroom teacher is expected to do.”

Sherman ISD Gifted and Talented Summer CampSISD students will gather at Jefferson Elementary School, near Austin College, to explore India’s culture for two weeks beginning Monday, July 17, from 8:30 a.m. to noon each day. The program is offered to students who are identified as gifted and talented in the district, and there is currently a waiting list to attend. The camp has experienced growth within the past few years totaling a number of 40 to 50 students.

Austin College graduate students Kristen Annis, Hailey Clendennen, Haleigh Hahn, and Brittney Aldridge will teach this year’s curriculum titled  “Exotic India: More Alike than Different.” Rising 2nd through 5th grade Gifted & Talented Sherman ISD students will discover the culture, religion, celebrations, geography, daily life, and challenges of India. The students will also receive dance instructions both weeks led by student members of the Austin College Indian Cultural Association.

Thinking Camp is funded by grant from the Capt. H. T. Hastings Trust. The grant covers costs of curriculum, all supplies, healthy snacks, dance instruction, authentic Indian food, and compensation for the Sherman ISD teacher/liaison.

Shahid emphasized that the program’s ultimate goal is two-fold. First, the program provides a unique, enriching learning experience for the students. Second, the program allows Austin College’s grad students to build confidence in what it means to be a teacher. “It is truly a rich learning experience for all involved,” said Shahid.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.

Dino Academy Returns To The Sherman Museum

The Sherman Museum is excited to announce that it will be conducting its annual Dino Academy children’s workshop series on July 18th, 19th, and 20th. The workshops are designed to complement the museum’s annual DINO DAYS exhibition. This year’s curriculum program will consist of two one and a half hour classes. Students can choose to participate in either a two day program on the 18th and 19th (half-day classes), or a full day program on the 20th. Snacks will be provided during both days of the half-day program, and lunch will be provided on the full day program. The all-day program is recommended for older children. All students will receive a colorful Dino Academy T-shirt and an Academy diploma upon completion of the program.

Ice Age DinosaursProgram activities include:

  • Hands-on guided tours of the current “Welcome to the Ice Age” exhibition
  • Presentations teaching students about dinosaurs & the Ice Age
  • Arts and Crafts sessions:
    • Creating your own handprint fossil
    • Sidewalk chalk drawings
  • Showings of related videos or movies
  • Games, and other interactive activities!

“This will be a great opportunity for kids to come in and get hands-on learning experience with fossils and prehistoric animals,” stated Museum Director, Dan Steelman. The cost of the workshop is $45 per child. “We want each child to receive lots of individual attention, so we’re limiting class size to ten students per session. I encourage parents to reserve class space for their children as early as possible.”

Class reservations can be made by calling the museum at 903-893-7623.

About The Sherman Museum

The Sherman Museum is a non-profit 501(c) (3) educational organization devoted to collecting, preserving and interpreting objects of historical significance for visitors and residents of Grayson County and the Greater North Texas Region. The museum was previously known as The Red River Historical Museum prior to a name change in March 2011.

For more information about The Sherman Museum contact us at

Theatricks to hold 3 day play writing conference

Theatricks to hold 3 day play writing conference

Theatricks Play Writing ConferenceStages Back & 4th!

Youth theater Playwriting Conference

Sherman Community Players’ youth theatre, Theatricks, is hosting a very fun and active theatre conference, STAGES (Student Theatre Artists Generating Entertaining Scripts), this summer for the fourth year now.

The conference will be held June 8,9,10, 2017 in the historic Kidd-Key Auditorium in Sherman, TX. The focus of the three-day conference will be the creation of 10-minute one-act plays. The plays will be performed on the Kidd-Key stage on day three of the conference. Students in grades 6 through 12 are invited to attend.

Day One

The conference will kick-off with a workshop taught by award-winning playwright, Ruth Cantrell, who will share her expertise as she instructs participants in the process of writing a play.

Ruth currently works with the Dallas Children’s Theatre as a teacher. Before that she was the professor of Theatre Arts at New Mexico State University in Las Cruses, NM from 1985 to 2012 where she taught: Script Analysis, Acting I, Acting II, Acting Styles, Creative Dramatics, Playwriting, and Introduction to Theatre. Her plays are published by Youth Plays ( While in New Mexico, Ruth was awarded the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievements in the Arts (New Mexico’s Highest Arts Award).

Following the playwriting workshop, students will actively participate in a session on improvisational technique taught by professional Lindsay Goldapp. During this activity, students will learn tools which will aide them in the development of a storyline.

After lunch, participants will be divided into groups to begin writing 10-minute one-act plays. Each group will choose a storyline to base their play.

After dinner, there will be a fun MURDER MYSTERY social event for everyone to participate in hosted by Theatricks’ teen theatre group, the Supporting Cast.

Day Two

On day two, groups will finalize their scripts and turn them in to be judged by Ms. Cantrell. Local artists will be on hand to assist each group by providing information about the selection of props and costumes available for their performances.

After lunch, each group will rehearse and take turns on the Kidd-Key stage, with the assistance of a lighting and sound operator, to discuss technical preparations for their play productions. Groups will also finalize costume selections with the assistance of a local costumer.

The evening’s festivities will take place at The Rialto Theater where all can enjoy an interactive evening at a vintage movie theatre, viewing a classic one-man cowboy show, THE COWBOY AIN’T DEAD YET! (TCA traveling artist). Don’t forget to dress up in your western wear.

Day Three

On day three, all groups will make their final modifications and hold dress rehearsals in preparation for performances on the Kidd-Key Stage.

The culmination of the weekend, of course, will be the performances of the one-act plays. The first performance will begin at 6 p.m. There is no charge for the performances, and the public is invited to attend. At the conclusion of the evening’s performances, awards will be presented for “Best Written Script”, “Best Produced Play”, “Best Actor” and “Best Actress”, “Best Use of Theatrical Elements”, “Most Creative Character Costume”, and “Best Use of Costume Elements” among others.


The STAGES Conference registration fee is $75.00 per registrant and includes participation in all workshops, the six served meals, the opening night social event, the evening at the Rialto, and the opportunity to meet and make new friends and acquaintances. Registration forms can be obtained from Theatricks’ website ( or call 903-893-8525.


Guests coming to Sherman but not participating in the conference (parents, younger siblings, etc.), can enjoy a variety of fun activities offered by Sherman’s Downtown Businesses and Museums.


Pirates Are Coming to the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum

Pirates Are Coming to the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum

Pirate NTCMYoung men and their mothers are set to enjoy an evening together.

Shiver me timbers! The pirates are coming to the Children’s Museum on Saturday, February 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Now that the Daddy-Daughter dance is history for this year, it is time to turn attention to the Mother-Son Pirate Night, a time for mothers  and sons.  Moms and young boys will have the opportunity to look like pirates and the “mates” will receive pirate training during the evening. Learning to walk with “sea” legs, escape a sinking pirate ship, and attack a sea monster will be part of the evening.  Detective skills will be used as the Museum Pirates search for Blackbeard’s treasure.

“It is important to the Children’s Museum that we recognize the special relationship between moms and their sons, “said Donna Tavener, Board President.

“We have a great group of volunteers working on this event,” Sharline Freeman, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum, stated. “Kathy Erwin, a former caterer, is coordinating the pirate food with help from Brenda Estess.  Lonnie Plunkett will assist with the decorations. And the balloon lady will be back again.”

The pirate food will include Pirate’s Trash, Peg Legs, and Cannon Balls. Face painting and balloon entertainment will also be part of the evening. And, of course, the Children’s Museum will be open for play in the many play areas.

“When I was creating the event poster, I wanted to capture the excitement for this event.  It is a special time for moms and sons, “said Elana Barton, Director of Development.

Tickets for the evening are $30 per couple. Purchase them by calling the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum at 903-886-6055.

“Princesses and Tiaras” Theme Announced for Daddy Daughter Dance

“Princesses and Tiaras” Theme  Announced for Daddy Daughter Dance

Northeast Texas Children's Museum daddy daughter danceThe Northeast Texas Children’s Museum has announced “Princesses and Tiaras” as the theme for the 2017 Daddy Daughter Dance. Every young lady dreams of  being a princess and wearing a tiara, so the Daddy Daughter Dance of 2017 will make that dream come true for each girl attending. The event will be Saturday, February 4 from 6:30 to 9:00.

The 2017 Daddy Daughter Dance will introduce a new disc jockey, Bryan Beezley of Beezley  DJ Services. He will be accompanied by his own daughter Casey. Casey will be a part of the dance floor as she encourages young girls to dance. Sometimes the encouragement will be for the dad, granddad, uncle or brother to join them on the dance floor.

Each young girl will receive a tiara that she can personalize with additional jewels. Other “princess” crafts will be available. Additional activities will be focused on making every young girl feel like a princess. The popular Balloon Lady will make another appearance as she uses her craft for making special balloons. Photos will be available for purchase.

Another new addition will be Kathy Erwin, a former caterer. She will work to provide food just right for a princess and her escort. The Thalians Culture Club will again sponsor the food. Guests should expect a new menu for the 2017 Daddy Daughter Dance.

“It is exciting for us to see the continuing enthusiasm for this event. It is so fun for us to do!” said Sharline Freeman, Executive Director. ” Beckey Thompson does an amazing job of decorating the Children’s Museum for this event.  She has new ideas for this year’s dance floor.”

Discounted tickets are now on sell at the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum and can be purchased by calling 903-886-6055. Tickets purchased before January 23rd are $30 for each girl and her escort; tickets purchased between January 23rd and February 4th are $35. On February 4, the day of the event, tickets will be $40 for each couple. Additional young girls will be $10 each. Thanks to generous donors, scholarships are available for the event.