Art class is always my preferred class to watch because there are so many magical moments! Students are always engaged in painting, drawing, and sculpture lessons and we end up with so many gorgeous pieces of art to share with family, friends, and donors. In addition to our students’ artwork being displayed at the Long Island Children’s Museum and on our studio walls, we use original artwork for our holiday cards, greeting cards, website, and auctions!
There is never a dull moment in dance. Students are lead through seasons, holidays, emotions, and fairy tales during dance classes. From ragtime in the 1920’s to current hits, our students stretch their bodies and imaginations by skipping, leaping, turning, shaking, and posing in dance. Props and costumes enhance our experience! Nothing beats all of the girls dressing up like Sugar Plum Fairies and dancing to The Nutcracker every December.
Never underestimate the power of dim lights, yoga mats, and a passionate yoga teacher! Students go from giggly to serene during our time in yoga. Our little blue studio is filled with partner games, sing-alongs, and literature-inspired sequences that keep the flow! I love when students call out their favorite poses, “Cat! Cow!” as soon as the yoga mats hit the floor.
Drumming class is just as exhausting to watch as it is to participate in! Our African Drum teacher, Sidiki Conde, joins us each summer for an authentic drumming experience. Students memorize dance and rhythm patterns and perform at the end of the summer for their guests. It’s impossible to sit at TAPA and not tap your feet along with these drum students. What I love the most is that students of all abilities and ages can participate in Sidiki’s classes. Whether from a wheelchair or with a one-on-one aide, students can’t stop smiling during drumming.
Broadway, Classical, Holiday Favorites, and Top 40 Pop artists can be heard through the hallways at TAPA during our music classes. Students play along with percussion instruments, dance and move to learn tempo and rhythm, and even play instruments during music class. Private piano students learn Billy Joel and piano basics and everyone rocks out together during our showcases. I love that our music classes are ever changing during the year and that students use their voices to with friends.
The teenage ballet class has to be one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taught. Students pirouette, battement, and tendu for the first time with me! Now that we have new ballet barres to use for balance, the girls love to check themselves out during our warm ups and center combinations. Each week we add more vocabulary to our understanding and dance basics to our series. It’s one of the best times of the week and I know the girls love it as well.
9. Sunday Workshops
Our workshops are held once a month and are a two-hour party that varies in theme. We’ve celebrated holidays, pirates, celebrities, tropical lands, magic, Disney, and everything in between! The workshops are a special time for me because I get to see students who don’t attend weekly classes but who attend TAPA on these distinct weekends. It’s a great time of unlimited fun and silliness! If you’ve never taken class at TAPA, this is a great time to sample our classes and see what we are really all about.
8. Girl Scouts
We have a troupe of special need girl scouts who have earned a variety of badges at TAPA. Ballet, music appreciation, art, and dance badges have all been earned with our state-certified faculty! These scouts share their smiles (and cookies!) with the faculty, volunteers, and staff of TAPA. We are so honored they come to us for activities and fun events!
7. Summer Camp
No summer experience is complete without CAMP! For three weeks we gather at TAPA for fun in the sun! Music and art fill our hearts and days as we work with volunteers and students to have the best time ever! Even heat and rain can’t stop our fun! Check out our Facebook page for some amazing photos from the past few years of camp. From the tradition camp song to the hilarious “fairy hunt”, we’ve done it all with smiles! (And there are photos to prove it!)
6. Saturday Respite
While the rest of the world is sleeping in on Saturdays, we are dancing the morning away. All classes are offered from 9am – noon each Saturday at our Respite program. Students are paired with tremendous volunteers who help keep students focused and transitioning from activity to activity. Students from ages 5 – 21 join us each week and have become a part of the Saturday Morning Crew! I love seeing the familiar faces each week and watching students improve their artistic abilities.
Siblings are a huge part of what makes TAPA unique. Not only do we have classes for students with special needs, but we offer classes to their typically developing siblings as well. Everyone loves to have fun at TAPA so we always invite siblings to join in the amusement! I’ve seen it lead to siblings bonding and laughing together and a sense of independence for others. I’m proud that TAPA is a place for everyone and I love to see siblings party together.
4. The Faculty
I’m totally bragging (and totally honest) when I say that we work with some of the best in the business! Our teachers are certified in a variety of disciplines and have the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen! They glow when our students smile and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.
3. The Volunteers
We would be nowhere without our volunteers! I am always impressed with the time and energy these unpaid helpers give to our children. Over the years I’ve seen volunteers and students form friendships that help both to mature in the most impressive ways. The volunteers are models of social behavior and the students look up to them and look to them for guidance. They are also super funny, cool, and smart! These teenagers never cease to amaze me and they are one of my favorite parts of TAPA.
2. The Mission
With The Theresa Foundation celebrating its 21st anniversary this fall, we are confident that TAPA – in memory of Theresa Alessandra Russo – will continue to provide quality arts and recreation activities for students for decades to come. The strong mission drives us to extend our mission across Long Island and to the students that need respite and recreation the most.
1. The Students
It goes without saying that the kids are the best part of the gig. Running into TAPA students outside of the studios brings a smile to my face because I know that we are part of the same community. The students are near and dear to my heart because they so readily share their joy and excitement in unexpected ways. The students have made me realize how lucky I am to be at teacher here and give motivate me to be more creative! I love the hugs, the smiles, and the bliss they bring to my life!