Mission and History
Expanding access to the arts
When arts are missing in school, Gordon Education fills the gap.
Empowering youth voices through the art of digital media.
Executive Director, Dan Gordon, knew first-hand that youth are more engaged when they learn through the arts, so he launched Gordon Education in 2014 so so every student could have the opportunity for arts education no matter income status or geographic location.
Kathy Starr, with a professional background in education and heart towards the towards the arts, enthusiastically came on board as a full-time General Manager. Together, they run the daily operations of the nonprofit.
With the same educational goals, Houston Public Media and the Houston Independent School District teamed up with Gordon Education to produce Take the Stage. All three entities work together to make Take the Stage a nationally recognized series trusted by parents and adored by kids.
The premiere of the pilot episode was hosted by Lauren Anderson, the first African-American ballet dancer to become a principal dancer of a major dance company alongside Chester Pitts, media personality and celebrity football player from the Houston Texans.
Take the Stage Premiere in 2015 at the Children's museum.
Take the Stage
Ballet and Ballers
The Houston Ballet teamed up with Gordon Education in 2015-2016 to produce a series of how-to ballet videos featuring Chester Pitts (NFL) and Patrick Beverley (NBA). This arts and sports collaboration was produced to make ballet accessible and fun for all kids, especially boys who have less exposure to ballet.
Every Take the Stage video is infused with young talent from the local community. Here, the choir students from Parker Elementary added their singing to a Take the Stage video that teaches about prepositions.
Carol-Lynn Parente, the former Executive Producer of Sesame Street, traveled to Houston to help produce Take the Stage episodes in 2017. With her nearly 30 years of experience at Sesame Street and with support from Houston Public Media, she helped write and direct 12 educational videos which launched on PBS LearningMedia in 2019. Carol-Lynn provides directorial guidance, script edits, production support, and generously shares her wisdom and joy of educational media with everyone on the team.
Carol-Lynn once again teamed up with Take the Stage to produce a new season of Take the Stage episodes in 2021-2022.
An Advisory Board composed of a diverse group of Houston-area kids and teens meets periodically throughout the year and frequently during the script-writing process to advise and provide edits on Take the Stage educational content. This youth-led board is essential to the development of all Take the Stage media as many of their editorial suggestions are implemented into the videos that are used in thousands of classrooms.
Research Study with 400+ Students
Allison Caplovitz, Ph.D. (formally of Blues Clues), led an extensive research study in 24 Houston ISD classrooms to test Take the Stage Media with over 400 students in grades K-5 to ensure that Take the Stage media was effective in increasing academic comprehension. (Research study available upon request)
Take the Stage Professional Developments for teachers were launched in 2018 in the Houston-area. These accredited PD’s are free to attend and led by HoustonISD teachers who already use Take the Stage in their classrooms.
At these sessions, teacher attendees not only receive training on how to integrate Take the Stage media into their lessons, but they also learn techniques on how to implement arts activities into any type of curriculum.
At the end of the professional development sessions, the attendees devise an original lesson plan pairing arts activities with their own academic curriculum whether it is language arts, social studies, math, or science.
In January 2021, Take the Stage launched two videos on Hellosaurus, which is a new educational online platform that increases the level of interactivity with the viewer.
In 2021, Take the Stage produced a second season of 12 bilingual educational episodes with the collaboration from Carol-Lynn Parente, Houston Public Media, HoustonISD, educational specialists, Wharton Dual Language Academy, and South Coast Media. This media launched on PBS LearningMedia in 2022.
2022, marked the year when Gordon Education took their successes from PBS and brought it straight to classrooms across Houston by teaching filmmaking to students in 3rd-12th grade. This immersive class teaches students to create their own media from concept to premiere.
The addition of filmmaking residencies marked the beginning of a new era for the nonprofit as it deepens its community impact. Gordon Education has taught filmmaking at Wharton Dual Language Academy, Meyerland Middle School, Silambam Houston, River Oaks Baptist School, Gateway Academy, Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, and the list continues to grow!
Gordon Education supports teachers by providing professional development sessions on integrating the arts into all subjects led by veteran elementary teacher and science specialist, Denise Conway.
PD Session: "Take the Stage in the Classroom: Using the Arts to Teach the TEKS"
● Philosophy of Take the Stage arts media and results of data study, group demonstrations on how to utilize Take the Stage media and best practices.
● Q & A with elementary teachers who have already used Take the Stage media successfully in their classrooms.
● Group brainstorming session for teachers to pair fine arts curriculum with academic curriculum
● Break-out groups divided by grade level to create an original lesson plan by integrating the fine arts curriculum into specific academic curriculum.
Take the Stage won a Platinum Remi award in 2016 from WorldFest Houston for the production of "Take the Stage Kids visit the Houston Ballet".
Gordon Education is a Mid-America Arts Alliance, ENGAGE program recipient, 2018-2020 (funded through the Houston Endowment).
Mid-America Non-profit Mentor: Brian Crockett