Ends on July 23, 2018

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Washington National Opera are pleased to announce a new opportunity for professional development for classroom teachers wishing to implement authentic, project-based learning.  Building on years of successful use and development in a handful of Montgomery County Public Schools classrooms, this approach to the standard  curriculum emphasizes student engagement—which is linked to positive academic and behavioral outcomes—and utilizes key practices for developing SEL skills, addressing the achievement and opportunity gaps, and developing skills necessary for the 21st-century workplace.

To learn more about this program and its impact, please watch our video here.

Kids Create Opera: A Vehicle for Learning

Professional Development

Who can participate?  

In practice, the curriculum is designed to be implemented by individual K-5 classroom teachers or equal partnerships between classroom and arts teachers with support from additional educators and/or volunteers.  The professional development seminar is open to all:  classroom teachers, special area teachers, special education and EL/ESOL teachers, principals, staff, teaching artists, volunteers--anyone who may take part in project implementation.  A background in music or theater is welcome but not required.

This is a program that requires collaboration to implement at its best.  We encourage multiple participants from each school to register and participate in the training.  

What schools should consider this program? 

A school that will successfully implement this program should

  • Have a strong interest in maximizing student engagement and its educational benefits
  • Have one or more creative, flexible teachers with an interest in the arts and in partnering across the school and with the community willing to lead this work
  • Have strong support from administrators
Title I schools and schools that serve low-income students and English language learners are encouraged to consider this program.

The seminar content will be adaptable to various curricula and requirements throughout Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Teachers from around the greater Washington, DC area are encouraged to participate.  

In the very unlikely instance that we cannot accommodate all applicants, applications will be reviewed for selection. Considerations for acceptance will include dedication to implementing the program in the 2018/2019 school year and working with a student population that includes a significant proportion of students from low-income communities and/or students who are English Language Learners.  

Program Description

In this program, classrooms form an opera company in which students write, compose, produce, and perform their own original opera over the course of a full academic year.  This project becomes the authentic vehicle through which the standard elementary curriculum is learned.  In a process-driven, student-directed project, students take on jobs parallel to those in professional opera companies such as the Washington National Opera (WNO):  composers, writers, PR representatives, set designers, electricians, costume and make-up designers, and performers.  Each student becomes an expert and a valuable, necessary contributor to the company.  The opera is based on a socio-emotional and/or cultural theme, determined by the students and derived from issues that are important to the class as a whole.  Past themes addressed barriers, failure, longing, empathy, and judgement.  These themes allow students to develop SEL skills as well as to become agents of change and voice in their communities—both of which are vital to growth and engagement.  The program is incorporated into all subject areas.

To help tie student work to the real world beyond the classroom, the Kennedy Center and the WNO provide insight into the work of students’ professional counterparts in opera production through opportunities such as classroom visits from WNO professionals, backstage tours of the Opera House, and tours of the WNO rehearsal and costume studios.

Program Implementation

This program can be adapted to fit the needs and resources for various classrooms, grade levels, schools, and communities.  Topics related to implementation and adaptation will be discussed during the professional development intensive and in follow-up support sessions.  However, we understand that teachers and schools will want to begin thinking about implementation before this time period and are committed to helping.  To discuss best practices, possible structures, and other ideas on how this process can be best implemented in your school prior to the summer seminar, please contact us at akday@kennedy-center.org.  

What is being offered?

The Kennedy Center is offering training and ongoing support to K-5 classroom teachers who are interested in implementing opera creation curricula in their classrooms. 

Kids Create Opera:  A Vehicle for Learning—Professional Learning

  • 8-day intensive session in August 
  • Monthly support meetings for participating classrooms

Kids Create Opera Partnership

A limited number of schools fully implementing opera creation curricula will be eligible to receive the following from the Kennedy Center and WNO:

  • Classroom visits from WNO professionals
  • Backstage tours of the Kennedy Center’s Opera House
  • Tours of the WNO rehearsal and costume studios
  • Dress rehearsal passes for participating teachers
  • Early registration for age-appropriate Opera Look-Ins and WNO Dress Rehearsals


Please use the following form to request to be registered for Kids Create Opera: A Vehicle for Learning professional development offered by the Washington National Opera and Kennedy Center Education.  In order for us to adequately prepare for the program, all participants from each school (teachers, volunteers, staff, etc.) must submit an online registration form.  Your answers will help us understand your current goals, concerns, and experiences as an educator.


August 1-8, 2018
9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily


WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park
6925 Willow St NW
Third Floor
Washington, DC 20012


All materials are provided.  


Participation at all sessions is required; participants must commit to attending each day for the full time period.  
During the training, participants will go through a parallel process similar to that which students will experience in the classroom.  Participants must commit to participating fully in all activities.  


Washington National Opera will cover the cost of participation and materials for all attendees. 
Participants are responsible for covering their own parking, transportation, and meals.


Optionally, teachers may choose to take this course for graduate credit from Trinity University.  Additional fees and registration processes will apply.  The cost is as follows:
Non-credit:  $0
3 credits:  $375
6 credits:  $750 (additional course requirements apply)
(Note:  Once a credit option is selected, it cannot be changed)
If you are interested in taking the course for credit, check the corresponding box on this online registration form to receive additional instructions.


Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive notification of your acceptance into the workshop or if further information is required.  


(202) 416-8846
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