ELS Studio week of March 9

Sorry the blog is a little late this week.

This week the heroes continued to work on the play and their groups.

Monday the heroes went to the Forest Hill Arts Center.  That was a wonderful adventure.  They toured the stage, behind the stage, where actors got ready for the play, where the costumes were kept, and even some trap doors and hidden doors.  The heroes were able to change lights and the stage and talk into the microphone.

                The heroes practiced projecting their voices.

gymnastics fun     

The heroes also practiced acting and worked on props for the play. Sorry but there was difficulties downloading pictures again.  I’ll try again later this week.

Right now we are hoping to still put on the plays after we return.  What it will look like we are not sure.  Heroes can practice their lines at home. They should have a script they brought home. If not please let us know and we can email one or one can get picked up from the academy.

More information will be coming about activities and core skills ideas soon during this time away.

Be healthy and safe during this break.  We continue to pray for our school, city, state, and country.






Theater and Transitioning to Distance Learning in ES

Week 26: March 9 – 13

Theater and Transitioning to Distance Learning in ES


A week that began normally and ended taking a very different turn. Backstage theater tour, playbill content creating, striving for Core Skills session goals, working as a team in improv games, theater team collaboration, and then preparing and practicing for distance learning for the rest of the session. The last two days this week included making a plan for our distance learning the next few weeks and practicing what our new schedule would look like.


The heroes demonstrated gratitude as they wrote thank you notes to the four guys from Calvin’s Improv Group that came to Journey for a Hero Talk. We mailed their notes out this week. Caleb Curry, the President of the Calvin Improv Group wrote to us and said,

“I wanted to let you know that we all had an amazing time with you guys! Talking about it afterward, we were all able to agree it was the best environment we had been in to teach improv and something we will remember for sure. We had such a good time…We were all definitely impressed by it.”  – Caleb Curry


Our tour of the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center with Jeremy Cox proved to be more exciting than we expected! Being on stage, behind the scenes, in the set storage room, and working with the lights was so cool! Thank you, Jeremy for such an inspiring tour!

As we waited for the second group of heroes to arrive to the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center in the van, the heroes who had already arrived occupied their time by playing improv games.



Stage trap door! The heroes brainstormed plays that might utilize this trap door experience. Can you think of any shows that use a trap door?


Seeing the set for the Hunchback of Notre Dame show up close gave theater more of a magical feeling than simply an empty stage.


Maddy was especially curious about the backstage manager’s post since her role in the Journey Academy exhibition is the Backstage Manager.


Most of the improv games and warm-ups we played this week:

  • Film Dub
  • Slideshow
  • Fast Forward, Rewind, Pause, Slow Motion
  • And Then
  • Pile of Props
  • Yes, Let’s
  • Take a Walk
  • Ask My Neighbor/Kitty Wants a Quarter
  • Quick Change
  • Rainstorm
  • Human Knot


The heroes love going to GR Gymnastics! They challenge themselves to try new things, to work on their weaknesses, and to strength their previous gymnastics skills. In Evi’s opinion, “Wednesday is my favorite day of the week!”


This week during a Launch discussion, the heroes discussed the COVID-19 coronavirus through questions like: “What does the media want you to believe?”, “What is really true about this virus and its spreading?”, “Who is most susceptible to catching this virus?”, and “What can we do in our studio to prevent the spread of germs (in general)?”

This week in the “Journey Academy Heroes’ Podcast,” two heroes chose to talk about coronavirus. Our research came from Spectrum Health. Make sure you do your own research on this topic from reputable sources. Overall take-away message: Stopping the spread of the virus that caused COVID-19 through every day good habits is the best way to keep people healthy.

Music: preview of “Energetic Ukulele” by Royalty Free Music Awwkwards


A bonus podcast! We added in an additional podcast focused on the distance learning that we are transitioning to.

Music: preview of “Energetic Ukulele” by Royalty Free Music Awwkwards


Have you asked your hero:

  • What were some highlights from your tour of the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center?
  • What are your thoughts about Calvin Improv group’s comments about coming to Journey? (See above)
  • When were you in workflow this week?
  • Were you ever in your panic zone this week? When were you in your challenge zone this week? When/where were you in your comfort zone this week?
  • When adults look at you and your friends, what do you think they see? What would they think is important to you? Are their thoughts of you true? (from Generation Change by Dave Ramsey)
  • Do you ever hide behind your “stuff” so that other people–or God–won’t be able to see the real you? How would your friendships change if all you “stuff” was taken out of the picture? (from Generation Change by Dave Ramsey)
  • What is it about us that Jesus values so much? Does he care more about what we have or who we are? (from Generation Change by Dave Ramsey)


John 14:27

Jesus speaking: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

ELS studio Week of March 2nd

The heroes are continuing their experiences with acting out feelings, creating stories, acting out animals, portraying actions and meeting with their groups.

   Guess the animal

Guess the emotion

  Gymnastic fun

Story creation from three nouns

   Guess the action

There are definitely thespians in the studio.  It is so much fun to watch.



 . . . let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works . . . (Hebrews 10:24)


I had the privilege to listen in to Miss Cheryl facilitate her academic check-ins.  In one simple response, she modeled a way to give feedback and call a hero to growth.  As they looked at the data from the past session, she invited the hero to set a goal for how many skill lists to complete during the six week quest.  After the hero proffered a proposal, she responded with this question, “ I notice that you are giving yourself six weeks to finish one list, is there any way that you could challenge yourself with lists completed?”

This wondering kind of feedback made sense for the hero as the quest began.  Other feedback happens in writing workshop as Miss Denise points Will to the mentor text that they had been studying on the wall.  “How does your writing compare to the one that we all wrote together?”

Other times feedback emerges from an invitation.  Miss Sarah asked the heroes to reflect before they started their Socratic Discussion. “What rule of engagement can we work on in this next discussion?”  As the heroes reflected, they identified “listening to each other” as their priority.

There are times that I cringe as I wait for feedback.  One of the things I’m learning about at Journey is that feedback is vital for heroes on a journey.

There’s an anecdote told about the Miami Heat after they won their first N.B.A. title in 2012.  They had superstars like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.  They were talented and experienced.  They looked poised for continuing success.  But on the night of their championship, their coach Pat Riley came into the locker room with an announcement.  “You’re good,” he declared with substantial pause. “But you can get better.”  And they took in his feedback.  And they recaptured the title in 2013.

Feedback is crucial for our heroes and we aim to provide it.  Feedback is crucial for Journey Academy to get better.  We are jump-starting and reinstating a core practice for the Acton Academy network.  We are resuming our weekly request for feedback in the form of a very short survey for parents.  We are asking heroes for feedback in a similar survey.  We are asking the guides for feedback in a survey as well.  Each Friday.  Parents can expect an afternoon email with the link to the survey.  Our team expects to reflect on this data as we gather together.

We look to keep getting better at Journey Academy.  We look for this feedback to stir us to love and good works. And we pray that this may be so, for all of us on our journeys.

::Dr. T::

Forming a Theater Production Team

Week 25: March 2 – 6

Forming a Theater Production Team


Our second week of the Process Drama/Improv Quest has been filled with playbill writing, improv game practice, practicing our on-the-spot thinking, and growing as a team. In Writer’s Workshop, the heroes constructed the advertisement form and typed the acts and cast members. Thank you to those who have reserved their advertisement spots in the playbill.



We love when heroes lead discussions. Every Thursday this quest, one of the ES heroes will lead close discussion with the ELS.


Caleb, Isaiah, Jackson, and Alex from Calvin Improv came for a Hero Talk!


Great takeaways from Calvin Improv team’s Hero Talk

  • Ways to grow at improvising include practicing being creative, be willing to make mistakes, read a lot to broaden your understanding of things in this world, practice improv games multiple times, and hold conversations with any different kinds of people.
  • Improv helps us in life situations because it helps us think on the spot, respond to stimulus around us, try new things, adapt to the responses of others, respond under pressure (ex: interviews), speak clearly when talking, and so much more.
  • When performing an improv show, it is important to speak loudly, project your voice, speak clearly, be concise, and don’t ask questions.
  • Starting and ending an improv show is simple.
  • Improvisers love to share improv game ideas with one another.


Improv games we played this week:

  • Bad Advice
  • Improv Olympics
  • Speak As One
  • Letter from Camp
  • Barnyard Symphony
  • The News Interviewer


Welcome back to the “Journey Academy Heroes’ Podcast!” This week, Ellery and Reaghan chose to talk about growing closer to God. Enjoy!

Music: preview of “Energetic Ukulele” by Royalty Free Music Awwkwards



Have you asked your hero:

  • What was the process like as you worked on the advertisement form and the acts and scenes for the exhibition playbill?
  • If you have set a weekly program schedule for yourself, how did it go this week? If you have not set a weekly schedule, what are the pros and cons of having a schedule for your programs?
  • What difficulties came up as you collaborated together with your theater committees?
  • How are play rehearsals going with the directors and movement master?
  • What tasks are you and your committee/team currently working on?
  • What were your highlights from when Calvin Improv came for a Hero Talk?
  • What improv games that you have played so far do you think the people at Heather Hills Independent Village might enjoy watching?
  • What surprises have come up this week for you?

See you next week!

come together

. . . the one who prophesies, speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.                          (1 Corinthians 14:3)

So often, the singular “hero” is used.  As I spend time at Journey Academy, I am realizing the need to be fluent in “heroes.”  Heroes are essential for encouraging, strengthening and providing comfort as we follow our journeys, individually and together.    

When I sat down to watch the heroes come together at the end of the day on Thursday afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was thinking that I would simply observe a closing discussion.  But what I got was so much more.  

The Elementary Studio had joined the Early Learning Studio for a Socratic discussion.  The older heroes were going to facilitate the conversation. It began with Emmry, a veteran at Journey, reviewing the rules of engagement for their student led conversation.

  • Sit quietly when you get to the launchpad
  • Always stay off the pad
  • Leave the lanterns alone
  • Remind other heroes of the rules
  • Leave the black chairs alone
  • Be quiet when others are talking
  • Keep your hands to yourself
  • Sit on your bottom.  

Emmry posed the Socratic question to start.  “If you could only save a dog or a cat from a burning building, which one would you save?”

After she took an initial show of hands, she opened the floor for response.  Multiple heroes weighed in with a sophistication that I didn’t expect. Elias stepped in with a connection. “I would choose dogs because dogs are active and I am pretty active.  Cats aren’t active.”  

Later, Ellery responded with a demonstration of active listening as well as the skill of refutation. “I know some people say cats are lazy but I want to say that’s a good thing. I would want a pet that can relax with me and spend time . . .”

The heroes continued with a level of sophistication that seemed utterly natural as they took a position, used examples and listened to other points of view.  Maddie shared her points from the discussion with her mom. Using her knowledge of intellectual skills valued in a variety of settings, Christi (who works with a wide variety of schools) was able to identify valuable capacities including:  focus, use of evidence, acknowledgement of the validity in other viewpoints as well as refutation of these viewpoints.   

It was in coming together that they found opportunities to demonstrate and to draw out each other’s learning. We come together for reasons.  John Tyson, pastor of Church of the City in New York recently claimed one of our most powerful spiritual locations is our dinner table, where we come together to break bread. I experienced this at our team meeting when Cheryl baked me an apple pie and we practiced table fellowship as a frame for our meeting.

Heroes coming together make the journey possible.  I want to invite you all to join us at the table and make our shared journey possible on March 24.  Details are below in this letter from the Community and Fundraising Committee. 


Journey Academy Families, Staff & Extended Family & Friends,

Each of us is on a hero’s journey.  At Journey Academy, we believe a connected community is essential for encouraging, strengthening and supporting heroes; and the dinner table is great for this type of connection.  

We want to make you aware of a great opportunity to connect and to support our school as we look to strengthen and grow on our shared journey. Zeytin Restaurant in downtown Ada will be hosting a Give-Back Fundraiser for Journey Academy!  Here’s how it works.

Join us for dinner at Zeytin on Tuesday, March 24 between 5 & 8pm.  Zeytin has agreed to give us some space and donate a percentage of dinner purchases back to Journey Academy.   What a deal!

Please let the JA Fundraising & Community Committee know how many people in your party will be attending dinner so we can let Zeytin know how many of us to expect. You can do this by responding to this email or by commenting on this letter in the Journey Academy Parents Group.  Also share this email with family and friends to invite them on the journey with us. Let the hostess know that you’re with Journey Academy upon arrival.

Looking forward to a meal together and the continuing journey.


Journey Academy Fundraising & Community Committee

Doc, Matt Roefer, Becky VandenBroek & Kara Beveridge


Thankful to be on the journey with you.

::Dr. T::