Theater Education for Disadvantaged Students

Nov 14, 2012

Duck for President project report

Students from Rosa Parks Elementary
Students from Rosa Parks Elementary

Thank you for your generous support of Oregon Children’s Theatre!

OCT’s 2012-2013 season has just begun with the smash hit Duck for President! Fed up with farm chores, Duck decides to challenge Farmer Brown to an election, only to discover that being in charge of the farm is hard work. So he decides to run for governor—and then president—kissing babies and hitting the late-night talk show circuit along the way. With showy campaign numbers, barnyard election antics, and nods to famous presidential moments, you’ll be ready to vote Duck for President no matter what side of the election you’re on.

Just under 10,000 students from 130 schools in Oregon and Southwest Washington attended a school performance of Duck for President. OCT provided full scholarships to 691 students and partial scholarships to 521 students. We offered teachers a free professional development workshop with OCT’s Technical Director and invited them to attend a complimentary performance to preview the play before bringing their classes.

Seeing live theater is always a powerful experience for young people, and for many school audience members, it’s the only live arts experience they’ll have all year. Fan mail from students emphasizes the impact: “it was super fantastical—my favorite part was the whole thing.” “I did not want to leave, it was a blast.” Feedback from teachers illustrates that live theater is not only fun and engaging—it strengthens students’ appreciation of reading and language arts: “my students could not stop talking about [the play]. They were comparing their favorite parts, talking about what was funniest, and comparing it to the book.”

Duck for President offered great opportunities to connect the arts to civics education and the 2012 election. One of OCT’s goals as an organization is to provide school audiences with curriculum connections and opportunities for learning beyond students’ trip to the theater. Providing teachers with free resources is one of the ways that OCT deepens student experiences. Teachers receive complimentary tickets to preview performances and also attend backstage tours with OCT’s technical director. Each production also has a free teacher resource guide filled with discussion starters, activities tied to educational standards and learning goals, and reading resources provided by the Multnomah County Library. Duck’s quest for the presidency isn’t entirely filled with pure intentions, but it does provide ample room for discussion about what makes a good leader and citizen, fairness and democratic process, and how to achieve big change on the grassroots level—topics that directly connect to social sciences educational standards for primary grades.

The Duck for President curriculum connections included:

  • Rights and responsibilities of citizens
  • Government, democracy, and politics
  • Local, state, and national levels of government
  • Responsibility and leadership
  • Elections and politics
  • Cooperating and solving conflicts
  • Language arts: slogans and speeches, letter writing, debate, and more
  • Math: counting votes, graphing, fractions

In order to further engage students with the election, OCT also conducted presidential elections at each school matinee. Teachers were provided with voting packets in advance, they polled their students, and turned in their official classroom results to the OCT staff in the theater lobby. Results were tallied and shared with students from the stage, and cumulative results were also be shared with schools—resulting in a great way to incorporate mathematics curriculum into an arts experience.

Please feel free to contact us if we can provide any additional information about Duck for President or Oregon Children's Theatre’s educational services for disadvantaged schools. Thank you again for your support!

Read the Duck for President teacher resource guide

Visit Duck for President's campaign website



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Project Leader

Rachel Tusler

Portland, OR United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Theater Education for Disadvantaged Students