Nearly 11 years ago, a handful of young music lovers came together at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame to learn the ins and outs of songwriting at what was then called the Big “O” Singer/Songwriter Camp.
This gathering launched the first programming of the Otis Redding Foundation that has since transformed into the Otis Music Camp, serving more than 60 campers over two weeks every June.
The foundation’s programming has continued to grow to meet the demand in our community for music and arts education. Although the foundation created the Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts to provide after-school programming, we have seen the need for even more opportunities to expose young people to the arts. Thus, the vision for Dream Academy was born. Why not have a school where music and the arts are integrated into the curriculum in each classroom, every day?
As we began to research how to turn this dream into a reality, we discovered the Authentic Arts Integration curriculum. This collaborative and interdisciplinary approach promotes a deep understanding of subject matter. We had seen firsthand the incredible results of giving a young person the gift of music through our foundation programming. We watched children gain self-worth and confidence, spark their creativity and aim for continued education. We saw all this through a two-week camp and after-school programs, so we knew we could move the needle in education if we could provide these opportunities in the classroom every day.
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On a personal level, I am thrilled to see our children, including my own daughter, who will be starting kindergarten in August, have the opportunity to dig into this way of learning. I look forward to watching these young minds grow and these young children gain the academic and life skills to become well-rounded and great human beings.
I’ve also been excited to witness the growth of this dream over the years with what began as a vision of the Otis Redding Foundation and is now a reality with many community partners working together to make Dream Academy Charter School a success. On Feb. 6, Karla Redding-Andrews, the Otis Redding Foundation executive director and Dream Academy board chair was joined by Mayor Robert Reichert on the stage of the Grand Opera House to announce the academy’s location at 151 Madison St. in Macon, in the historic Pleasant Hill neighborhood. Applications for enrollment are available online at http://www.dreamacademycharter.org or at the Otis Redding Foundation offices at 339 Cotton Ave. in downtown Macon. They will be accepted through March 2.
The school itself will open its doors this coming August for the 2018-2019 school year, and the sights and sounds that will emit from those doors will be something to behold.