Jumping Jack Theater is co-founded by Rebecca Covert and Stephen Santa. The diagnostic criteria for an Autism diagnosis includes qualitative impairments in social interaction, qualitative impairments in communication, and sensory processing disorder. The Jumping Jack Theater program emphasizes the benefits of dramatic play fostering the following growth in students: rehearsal of social skill interactions that may be required or encountered in the "real world," experiential role playing from multiple viewpoints, sensory stimulation through kinesthetic learning, building meaningful interaction with peers, and the cultivation of movement as a viable form of expressive, non-verbal communication with others. Additional outcomes include an increase in student confidence and engagement fun, interactive, artistic play with drama, music, props and puppetry. As with any specialized programming, we aim to have students generalize their learning outcomes across all school-based and community settings. The company name originates from Mrs. Covert’s son, Jack, who has Autism and is nonverbal.
Borland Manor Elementary School enjoyed a grant-gifted, five-day pilot residency for the Jumping Jack Theater program in the autistic/life skills support classroom. The success of the pilot program propelled the establishment of a 20-day residency in the 2015-2016 school year at Borland Manor Elementary School. Our students have demonstrated gained confidence, creativity, and social engagement in our experiences with Jumping Jack Theater. The students and their experiences at Borland Manor Elementary School helped Jumping Jack Theater produce their first original theatrical work, The Light Princess.
In the 2017-2018 school year, Borland Manor Elementary School and North Strabane Intermediate School joined together and were awarded a sixty-day Long-Term Artist Residency Project through the Arts in Education Partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. We were excited to bring innovative and authentic opportunities to the Autistic/Life Skills support classrooms, and to empower students to explore while following the design thinking process with a creative team. The original production being developed through this residency is titled, Cityscape.