Wolf Trap Readies New Center for Education

Wolf Trap Readies New Center for Education

Wolf Trap’s new Center for Education, a 53,000 square-foot building inspired by the quiet, functional architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, will house classes for the teachers of young children, showing them how the performing arts can be used to teach basic skills like language and reading.

Presently, such classes are held in the Barns, immediately adjacent to the new center. The center is scheduled to open officially in May.

To passersby on Trap Road in Vienna, or eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road just beyond the Trap Road exit, the Center already looks complete. But workers are still completing high-tech details, such as state-of-the-art sound booths for aspiring opera singers and a small, acoustically-friendly performance hall on the ground floor.

The sound system in the booths will emulate the sound-carrying qualities of the stages at the Filene Center and the Barns, to help singers get used to the sound of their own voices on stage. Wolf Trap’s opera company, a summer residency program that boosts the careers of rising young stars between their academic training and their professional careers, will use the center when it opens.

The new Center will also house a Learning Center, already a regional and national resource for teachers and artists. It will add web-based learning tools, videos, books, periodicals, and computers linked to the internet; a lecture hall with seating for 100 where interactive, distance learning programs can be conducted, and training for teaching artists and teachers for the Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES will include web casting and conferencing capability, satellite hook-up capability, audio-visual projection screens and a digital sound system.

Research shows that the arts are intrinsic for early learning and play a central role in cognitive, motor, language and social-emotional development.

Wolf Trap's Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts places professional performing artists in classroom residencies to work with children three to five years old, along with their teachers and families, through the disciplines of drama, music, and movement.

By weaving such activities as puppeteering into the curriculum, the arts become a new way to teach and learn.

Without much fanfare, more than 2 million children have already experienced such performing arts techniques as they’ve learned basic academic concepts and life skills, according to Danette Wills, Wolf Trap’s director of media relations.

"The Institute has 14 regional programs across the country, and its programs have been conducted in more than 45 states and nine international communities," Wills said.

More than 200 Wolf Trap Teaching Artists work in classrooms across the country in dance, drama, and/or music. Scholarships and career grants are given to aspiring artists, and more than 30 students participate in the Wolf Trap’s internship program every year.

Other education programs include BabySTEPs, Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods and master classes for people of all ages.

WOLF TRAP’S “TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS” for the Center each gave at least $100,000, or in-kind goods and services. They include AT&T, Bank of America, Booz Allen Hamilton, ExxonMobil, General Dynamics, Lafarge North America, Microsoft, and TRW.

Ninety-four percent of the funds used to construct and equip the Center for Education are being provided through private philanthropy generated by The Campaign for Wolf Trap, a $21 million fundraising initiative to secure funds for capital and endowment needs. Thus far, nearly $14 million in commitments have been received from individuals, foundations and corporations. The Foundation continues to pursue additional technology partnerships, naming rights and other support for the Center for Education at Wolf Trap.

Julie Carter, Senior Director of Development for Wolf Trap said the partnerships "allow Wolf Trap to develop a model of direct services, video conferencing and web-based learning for teachers and students across the country."