My relationship with the Fox Theatre in Atlanta began when I was a college student at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. At the time, my sister was a teacher in Cumming, Georgia and my parents lived in our southwest Georgia hometown of Arlington. As a way to get our family together regularly my parents got season tickets to the Fox. We all looked forward to our Sunday lunches and Broadway musical matinees on Peachtree at the Fabulous Fox.
Since those memorable Sundays spent at the Fox, I have enjoyed almost twenty-five years of introducing my family, friends and students to the historic Fox Theatre. I get a thrill out of seeing their faces when they enter and see its opulent decorative elements for the first time, hear the majestic Moller organ and experience the captivating performances. Recently, I had a unique opportunity to introduce all six hundred of my elementary music students to the Fox Theatre in an unexpected way.
I learned that the Fox Theatre Institute offers a curriculum called Fox in a Box. Immediately I reached out to Maggie Fuller, Community Engagement Manager. Maggie familiarized me with Fox in a Box and I was certain my students would love it. When the curriculum was first introduced in December of 2014, the delivery was in person in the metro-Atlanta area. In 2020 it became necessary because of COVID to create a virtual version. In my case this proved to be an even better option because of the distance required to travel. Virtually experiencing Fox in a Box also allowed me the flexibility to deliver it to each class when it was most appropriate in my pacing guide.
My students loved Fox in a Box! They were fully engaged in the presentation and had so much fun working in their activity booklets. It inspired discussion and helped students make connections. My students made a connection to our own local theater in Summerville, GA. The Tooga Theatre was awarded the Fox Theatre Institute grant and is currently undergoing construction to preserve the front of the theatre. Students were very excited to get to take their Fox Theatre crayons and pencils home with them with them along with their work booklet they completed. I was impressed that the curriculum included every element of the STEAM classroom. Science, technology, engineering, art and math are all covered and present great jumping off points for even more in depth projects in the STEAM classroom.
Leigh Burns, the director of the Fox Theater Institute had this to say. “The Fox Theatre Institute (FTI) is thankful to have the opportunity to share our Fox in a Box program outside of the metro-Atlanta region. The virtual program will help us share our unique theatre’s history, eventually we hope to all 159 counties in Georgia. This K-5 program includes the cross section of Fox history through broader Georgia and national history, urban history, preservation, performing arts, and more! While learning about these subjects that meet curriculum, the energy and excitement of a child learning about the world of theatre gives us great fulfillment. We appreciate the many teachers, principals, coordinators, and city and county leadership for supporting our success throughout communities statewide.”
Since the inception of Fox in a Box, the program has reached 45,704 students and 3,010 educators. A total of 48,717 participants is only the beginning now that any educator can access it virtually. I encourage all Georgia elementary teachers to make Fox in a Box part of your classroom. You and your students will learn a lot about the Fox Theatre since its construction and grand opening on December 25, 1929. Fox in a Box has enriched my classroom in a way I wasn’t expecting this school year at no cost to my school. I assure you, you will be as delighted as I am with Fox in a Box from the Fox Theatre Institute. To get started contact Maggie Fuller at Maggie.Fuller@foxtheatre.org
Photos are of Mrs. Lee’s Kindergarten students at Trion Elementary School who were among the 600 Trion students who participated virtually, metro-Atlanta students who participated in person (pre-COVID), and a creative design by Trion Elementary student, Bryant Abernathy.