EXTRA! Read all about progress with improving graduation rates

The nation has achieved an 82.3% high school graduation rate


While this is an awesome achievement, before we get too excited, we must also discuss CHALLENGES.

1) This year the nation is slightly off pace to reach a 90% on-time graduation rate by 2020

2) At both the national and state levels, troubling graduation gaps remain between White students and their Black and Latino peers, between low-income and non-low-income students, as well as, between students with and without disabilities

3) Low-graduation-rate high schools – a key focus of the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act – pose a significant roadblock to the national goal of a 90% graduation rate for all students. While the number of low-graduation-rate high schools has declined considerably over the past decade, in some states they still predominate.

Children Learning


The good news is THERE IS A SOLUTION that has been proven successful and has helped us make improvements to graduation rates over the last several years in particular:

Students who have fallen off track to graduation need:

1) Positive relationships with caring adults
2) Strong and tailored instruction
3) Opportunities to engage in learning experiences that connect school to careers and life beyond
4) Support and resources to help them figure out what they want to do once they have earned their diploma.

These should be at the core of any school or program, particularly those serving vulnerable student populations.

Studying Tools of ArtThese needs are at the core of ALL Story Tapestries’ programs, we work with high-need communities to create sustainable solutions that help ensure every child has the possibility to learn and has access to the resources they need for success. We have seen that an arts-based approach not only helps with relationship building and picking up new skills, but also can inspire and give direction to students that otherwise lack motivation for developing an interest in learning at school. Story Tapestries forms partnerships with other non-profits, public and private organizations such as schools, libraries, museums and senior living centers to connect supportive networks within communities. Working with like-minded people like you, we’re confident that we’ll continue to make strides in reaching the Grad Nation goal – helping students graduate from high school and increasing their possibilities for the future.

These facts and the analysis are reported by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and released in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. Read the full report yourself here!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Original Greek Myths written by Jessup Elementary School Students #2

We love our students and schools we get to teach at, Jessup Elementary is no exception. The teachers and students there are remarkable. We recently had a few classes submit some original writings about Greek Myths. Student creativity is AMAZING. Check out this work submitted through Mrs. Donor’s classroom

Original Greek Myth


  • Zeus (King of the Gods), 100 years old, Powerful, Excited
  • Poseidon (God of the Sea) 112 years old, Aggressive, Angry
  • Athena (Goddess of Wisdom) 40 years old, Brave, lonely
  • Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt and Moon), 99 years old, Helpful, Afraid

FullSizeRender (4)



On a Gigantic Cloud above an ocean full of dangerous sharks, Spring Thunderstorm, Chilly, The sky is a dark ominously gray color, huge undulating waves


Poseidon stirs up the ocean creating gigantic angry waves.  He wants to knock Athena off of the clouds and into the water.  Athena bragged directly to Poseidon “I’m  1 million times smarter than you!” She is so cruel to him because he made fun of her yesterday.  Artemis overheard and tells Athena that she’s right. Artemis shouts, “Poseidon is the meanie of the family.”

FullSizeRender (2)


There were many examples from this school and we will post more from these young “authors.” What an exciting time to be involved in their lives. The creativity and imagination that pours from them is life changing. We LOVE what we do. We LOVE to impact students and thereby change the communities they and we live in.

Posted in Residencies, Writing Samples | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magic in Glen Echo Park

Our partners at Glen Echo had an amazing event, we, Story Tapestries were honored to be a part of it.

Here are a few words from Glen Echo Staff:

Despite cloudy skies and cool temperatures on April 30th, we had a very nice turnout for our Family Day Festival at Glen Echo Park. In addition to carousel rides and craft projects, visitors were treated to an expanded performance schedule on three different stages – a variety of dance troupes in the Spanish Ballroom, magicians and live music in the Cuddle Up Pavilion, and singing, storytelling, and rhyming in the Bumper Car Pavilion. We were very pleased to work with Story Tapestries for the first time and our audiences loved the interactive, playful performances by storyteller Arianna Ross and hip-hop artist Bomani Armah. We look forward to collaborating with Story Tapestries again for Family Day in 2017.



Read how Bomani saw the day: 

I had a wonderful time at at family day at Glen Echo.  Setting up on stage at the old bumper car pavilion, sandwiched between jazz and magic tricks to the left and a ballroom full of traditional folk dancers, I found myself competing for attention a little bit.  What a great problem to have if you’re one of the hundred of families that came out. An artistic overload was on display all day, as I had the pleasure of following Arianna and her captivating storytelling. By the end of the day, we had transformed dozens of innocent bystanders into breakdancers and beat boxers.  Kids old enough to talk were responding to “Can I kick it?” with “YES YOU CAN!”, and transformed our corner of the park to a b-boy and b-girl jam. Can’t wait to come back for next year!

Arianna Ross, and the staff here at Story Tapestries, are in complete agreement with Bomani and Glen Echo Park. This event was amazing and it was heart-warming to see the community come alive in the Park. We are so looking forward to our return next spring, and are hoping to see you there.


Posted in Community Event | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Family Day at Glen Echo Park, MD – Story Tapestries will be there!!!

newswire_logoWhen: Saturday April 30th, 11am-4pm
Where: 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD 20812 
Cost: FREE (select activities have a cost – see Schedule)

Family Day15_Poster


Family Day is a FREE fun-filled annual event celebrating the opening of Glen Echo Park’s historic Dentzel Carousel for the 96th season!!

Family Day15_Poster

We are honored to take part in performing a number of times during the day. We, Arianna Ross and Bomani Armah, will be telling stories from 11am-3pm in the Bumper Car Pavilion. Even more then the few hours that we are taking part in there are SO MANY ACTIVITIES for your family to enjoy.

Family Day15_Poster

You can join in the fun watching magic shows, family swing dancing, face painting, open studios, crafts, hula hooping, puppets, balloon animals, demonstrations and – of course – CAROUSEL RIDES. There are so many activities we can’t list them all but see the full schedule HERE.
Family Day15_PosterSome of the free performances are:

  • Magic Shows with Barry Wood and Abracadabra Alex
  • Taptricity (Youth Tap Group led by LeeAnet Noble)
  • Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance
  • Sassafras Barbershop Quartet
  • Storytelling and Poetry
  • Gloria de la Danza (Folk Dances of Latin America)
  • La Fille mal gardee by Ballet Petite

Family Day15_Poster
For more information please visit glenechopark.org

We are so excited to be part of this event this year and are hoping to see many of our readers and followers there. Come say hi at the Bumper Car Pavillion.

A bit about Arianna Ross:


She creates dynamic, educational programs that weave together dance, theatre, creative writing, music and spoken word. For more then 12 years Arianna has performed and taught workshops for all ages both nationally and internationally in many diverse venues. Each program is tailored to the specific age group(s) in attendance.

Arianna will be telling the story of Waves of Adventure: Experience the magic of stories above and below the water.

When you swim in the ocean or dance on the beach, you can hear waters’ special symphony singing in your ears.  Drink in your fill of stories with animals, creatures and people who live above and below the water.  Travel around the world with only your imagination, voice, and body. Leave the program moving like a giant, dancing like a manta ray, and swimming like a shark.

A bit about Bomani Armah:

unnamedHe is a poet, songwriter, producer, performer and educator. Bomani uses his life experiences, mixed with his musical and poetic skills, to paint lyrical pictures of life, as he sees it, and the future as he envisions it.  Bomani has had videos featured BET and MTV2, as well as hosted and performed everywhere from the Washington National Cathedral to the Fillmore in New York City. His performances featuring Bomani’s music videos Bomani Armah is  “not a rapper, he’s a poet with a hip-hop style”. Bomani has been performing his brand of thought provoking-head-nodding music on stages big and small for over 15 years for thousands of people of all ages, from schools, to churches, to nightclubs and prisons! Bomani’s assembly is a multi-media presentation, explaining the fun process of hip-hop song writing while comparing it to the practical skill of essay writing.  Through the use of positive music videos and song lyrics Bomani encourages students to find and create art that reflect their life and aspirations.

Bomani’s program is a solo interactive performance, featuring music videos, multi-media presentations, call and response, as well as rhythmic movement with the audience.  Students will rap along to original, professionally released music by Bomani, as well as songs highlighting his tips on how to be a better creative writer.  Students will also learn historical facts about the birth and development of hip-hop culture and it’s elements.

“One of the more entertaining voices in a local spoken word scene that’s overflowing with talent.” – Washington Post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arts Integration at the Vero Beach Museum of Art ~ Shanti Sanchez

We have partnered with The Learning Alliance and The Vero Beach Museum many times. They have been and continue to be amazing partners in so many ways. Their staff, the events, the community… We can’t get enough and look forward to continuing our partnership. We wanted to take a moment to highlight the great work they are doing at the Vero Beach Museum.

0815 TLA Moonshot Academy Trainings (48)Over the past two years, the Vero Beach Museum of Art’s education programs have become aligned with a school district and community literacy initiative in Indian River County, Florida called the Moonshot Moment. The Museum has been working with schools, families, and other community partners to bring “literacy off the page” through the use of visual arts, story, movement, and sound. The Museum has hosted a number of professional development sessions for teachers facilitated by arts integration thought leaders like Kurt Wootton, author and co-founder of Brown University’s ArtsLiteracy Project and Arianna Ross, founder of Story Tapestries.
DSC_1035While artists and museum educators are well aware of the power of the arts to support learning in all subject areas, often teachers and parents need guidance to experience and feel confident with using arts integration strategies and activities for students. The Vero Beach Museum of Art has expanded its young family programs to include, for example, Artful Storytime where young children visit the galleries to view and talk about works of art then explore a related children’s book and do a hands-on art project. Parents participate as well, observing simple strategies as demonstrated by teaching artists and receiving tips to use at home.
Beachland Grade 1 (7)In addition, the Museum has installed large-scale reproductions of art from its permanent collection in all public elementary schools. These Moonshot Masterpieces feature simple instructions created by local teachers offering parents ways to engage with visual images that will enhance oral language development, reading and writing. The result of these and other combined efforts is that art is making a visible difference in this community, where close to seven out of ten children are living in poverty, receiving free or reduced lunch. The goal is for 90% of third graders to be reading on grade level by 2018, and the vision is for this small central Florida county to become a literacy capitol of the nation. Arts and cultural organizations like The Vero Beach Museum of Art are helping make this dream a reality.

Here are few quotes from those who have been impacted by this great museum and their programs:


feb 2016 008

“Thank you so much for the class visit today. I have been teaching a long time and have never had a more appropriate classroom visit. The material covered was extremely applicable to 1st graders. Thank you so much for the preparation that went into the presentation. We are so grateful for the collaboration of The Learning Alliance and Vero Beach Museum of Art.”



feb 2016 011

“Could the students receive one free pass to bring a  parent back? I think if we sent it home you would get kids bringing their families.  Then they could share what they learned and could educate the whole family.  I loved the field trip.  My daughter loved it too.  Thank you so much.”


“I am a high school junior. I moved to Vero Beach last year, and over the summer I visited the Museum of Art for the first time. It was a wonderful experience, as the staff was very helpful and the artwork was diverse and intriguing! I have never been as familiar with a museum as I currently am with the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and I am ecstatic and grateful to be involved with it.”




Posted in After School Program, Professional Development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Change that is lasting…

IMG_3136.jpgA few weeks ago we had a performance that had, as usual, a lasting impact on the students and teachers. Our programming has many objectives that are accomplished simultaneously, this particular performance was about immigration in the US. We want to develop listening skills and encourage the children to think creatively. By engaging the students we foster the desire to read and write stories and poetry and understand the structure of a story. The subject matter helps to teach about the history of immigration in the United States and to cultivate their ability to connect the history they read/hear to the life they are familiar with day in and day out.Lastly we want to expand their knowledge of other communities, gaining respect for other cultures and their traditions. Finally, we want to promote an interest in the theatrical arts.

We provide guides to the teacher for them to be able to use the performances as a touch point and launch pad for digging deeper and stretching the learning. This allows them to take what they see and hear and build upon the exciting visual foundation we set. We often receive excited feedback like this:


We had decided the best way to showcase the kids work was to display it in the hall so that parents would be able to come by and see their child’s work at their convenience.  We also have a huge STEM expo coming up when a lot of parents will be visiting school.

Thank you again for visiting our school and sharing your materials with us- the children transferred their dictionaries to their writing folder and are continuing to use them!
With sincere thanks,
Tanya Parrish
Third Grade Lead Teacher
J.W. York Elementary School
IMG_3079We are working hard to get these kind of tools into the hands of as many teachers, educators, and even parents as possible. We want to change the face of the student population and equip them for long term success in, not just school, but life. There are many avenues we are traveling down to achieve this: residencies, performances, workshops, professional development, family literacy nights, networking and many others. We are also working diligently to build the structure for an online resource, a Virtual Classroom, that will provide similar experiences online and tools, i.e. virtual field trips, instructional videos, guides, handouts, etc.
The Virtual Classroom is a massive undertaking requiring many supporters, not just financially but also organizationally, technically, and creatively. If you are interested in becoming part of our amazing support team, in any capacity, and help us work towards this goal please email us.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

They listen, hear and believe that children can succeed – Arianna Ross

As the Executive Director of a not-for-profit often times the job is filled with meetings, budgets and paperwork. However, when I decided to help turn this organization into a not-for-profit I made a promise to myself and to the  organization: I would spend at least part of my time still with the community. People always ask me, “How do you have the time?” The truth: I don’t have the time. I’m often staying up late at night followed by getting up early in the morning to make certain that the paperwork is complete. Although I am exhausted at times, it is worth it when teachers, students, and parents tell me thank you.

Our home base as an organization is the Washington Metropolitan region.   We work with schools from the heart of south east DC to communities in Virginia and Maryland. Over the years we have worked hard to make certain that 90% of our programs are supported at least in part by an outside funding source. Sometimes we get to travel and support schools in other regions
Photo Jan 09, 11 43 39 AMLast week we partnered with York Elementary School in Raleigh,  North Carolina. The teachers asked us to focus on having the children write pieces of historical fiction. They were required to step into the shoes of some of the most famous and instrumental civil rights heroes of our time. It was powerful. I observed students do research on Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Junior, and so many others. The questions they asked and statements they made were so insightful.

Two examples were…..

 “Ms. Ross, why would someone be mean to another child just because they look different? All children should be allowed to go to school.”

“I can’t imagine behaving this way. I’m going to grow up and make sure nobody behaves this way to another person.”

During the actual time of writing, I observed the students who normally struggle become successful. They were able to write easily because they connected to what they were writing. We had used the tools of drama to learn about the subject, as well as, to help us become authors.

Every day I strive, through Story Tapestries, to serve my students, and my community better.  I try to listen.  My struggle comes when I see children marginalized because of color, learning style, ability, religion, disability, sexual preference…..I try to find ways to help people see the value of a child.  Sometimes I succeed and more often I am told,”They can’t be fixed so don’t bother.” or “They have been struggling to learn so don’t try.” YET….More often than not, these children can and do.  This past week A SHOUT OUT to York Elementary School in NC as well as Leonardtown Elementary School in MD.  They listen, they hear and they believe that their children can succeed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment