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At the McKinney Center: Kids get creative this January



It’s all about the kids.

The McKinney Center in Jonesborough, operating Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts, has expanded its classes specifically targeted for children beginning this January.

Fully 50 percent of the students taking classes at the McKinney Center are youth. This expansion of offerings is guided by the findings of a comprehensive Americans for the Arts Study, stating that children who participate in the arts for at least three hours per week over the course of one year are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair, and three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.

McKinney Center staff recognizes its responsibility to contributing to greater academic achievement for the youth in the community, and will now be offering a wide range of classes for youth participation.

In addition to fine arts and art construction classes that have been offered since the program began three years ago, this expansion of programming now includes a whole series of dance classes, from ballet to jazz to hip-hop to baton twirling.

Film classes have expanded to include independent film making as well as television production in the program’s new TV studio.

Theater and drama classes have grown to include an after-school offering at Jonesborough Elementary School.

Pottery classes have been added to the curriculum, and music classes return with the popular bucket-drumming class offered once a year in the spring. The homeschool art class also returns this semester, providing daytime programming for youth.

The McKinney Center employs the finest artist-teachers in the area to serve on its faculty. The teachers for the children’s art classes are no exception.

Chassidy Hawthorn will be teaching children’s fine arts, fine art construction and homeschool art. These classes deal with painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, mixed media, and more.

Hawthorn, originally from Mississippi, has become a well-known artist in the region since locating here in 2014. Since that time, her work has been shown in major art exhibitions of the area.

Most recently, her work was seen at Fine Art in the Park in Jonesborough, the Women’s Fund Art Show, and Jonesborough’s Juried Art Show. She also does regular art demonstrations throughout the Tri-Cities.

Dani Prevette, executive director for Tri-Cities Talent, Blountville Performing Arts and Ketron Performing Arts is heading up the ballet and jazz classes.

She is certified by Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, and Dance Makers, Inc. Prevette’s students have won dance competitions on state, regional and national levels in all areas of dance and gymnastics.

Her students performed their own 30-minute show at Disney World in 2016. She will teach children in different age groups, from three years old to twelve years old.

Kara Bledsoe will expand her pottery courses for youth, to include pottery wheel, hand-building, extruded work and slab building.

Bledsoe received her BFA with a concentration in ceramics from East Tennessee State University, and spent several years teaching the after-school art program through Johnson City Arts Corps, and has taught wheel classes for youth and adults at the McKinney Center for two years.

Nationally known hip-hop artist Kevin Michael Joseph “Kasper” Glasper returns this year to teach two levels of hip-hop. Glasper has been dancing for over 15 years, and has trained and danced with D’ron Yancey at Belleville Elite Dance Company, Edward Chukukere and Brandon McCurry.

He is one of the founders of UCF: Universally Complicated Freestylers which began in 2005.

He has trained in numerous styles of dance including: popping, locking, waving, tutting, choreography/street dancer, hip-hop, ballet and contemporary.

In addition to teaching at the McKinnney Center, he teaches hip-hop at Xtreme Dance Company, serves as a dance instructor at Holloway Dance School and the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, and has served as a dance teacher at City Youth Ballet in Johnson City. He has performed his repertoire on a national level at large festivals and exhibitions.

Amanda Carr joins the McKinney Center faculty this year as a baton twirling instructor, and has a long history of dance instruction as well.

Advancing in dance at a rapid rate, she began teaching dance at Lesa’s School of Dance at a very young age. Carr is a truly local talent.

She was a majorette at David Crockett High School and coached future DCHS majorettes while there. She went on to become a member of the elite ETSU Dance Team from 2010-2012.

Today, Carr is the head coach for the Johnson City Twirlettes, and teaches baton twirling to girls of all ages.

She also works in Johnson City Schools as a case manager. Her passion for working with youth makes her a valuable asset to the McKinney Center faculty.

Registration for these classes and others continues through Jan. 21. There is a $10 early-bird discount for those who register before Dec. 21.

Registration forms are available at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough on 103 Franklin Avenue, and can be found online, along with the full catalog of classes on the Town of Jonesborough website at:

Gift Certificates for these classes are also available.

For more information, email McKinney Center director Theresa Hammons at: [email protected] or call 423-753-0562.