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Building the  Classroom


Project Design Lab / June 24-28

Burlington, Vermont

Project Design Lab project with Brookside Primary School — Barbara Paulson, Teaching Artist.   Photo: Gordon Miller

Where does "Me" end and "We" begin? 


School communities are struggling—students are less connected to peers, showing less empathy and respect, not creating the joyful community a classroom can be.


This course leads you through a series of hands-on workshops to design a project plan for your classroom that uses theater-based techniques to create a culture of community, empathy and belonging, and deeply engage students in their learning.

Who Should Attend?

  • Prek-5 classroom educators

  • Middle & High School arts and humanities educators

What Educators Say

This week has given me new ideas about how to build community, relationships, and belonging with my new group of students.

  – Amie Milizia-Fisher / Math & Science, Browns River Middle School

What To Expect

  • Strengthen your teaching practice with theater-based tools that lead your students to feel confident in their own voice and understand their interdependence in the classroom.

  • Learn with and from teacher colleagues in Elementary or Middle/High school cohorts,
    and from master teaching artists.


  • Model ways to amplify personal voice and build a respectful, collaborative classroom community.

  • Build an every-day tool-kit of ways to improve student well-being by creatively connecting heart, head, and body.   

  • Refuel, rejuvenate, and have fun!

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Project Design Lab culminating event with Salisbury Community School, in collaboration with Courageous Stage. Lindsay Pontius, Teaching Artist.

Workshop Themes

  • Design a project to improve your classroom's sense of community and your students' empathy and respect for each other. 

  • Engage in rehearsing a shared text or story and explore how that process can deepen student engagement and learning.

  • Build every-day tools that strengthen the culture of your classroom as a community of interdependent learners. 

  • Collaborate with colleagues to explore a story and build a performance using puppets (Elementary) and theater (Middle/High) techniques.

Photo: Gordon Miller

Project Design Lab residency at Brookside Primary School. 

Barbara Paulson, Teaching Artist.

Meet the Facilitators

Lindsay Pontius

Course Leader

Middle/High School cohort

Classroom Community Detais

The Details
2024 Project Design Lab

June 24-28 / 9:00am - 4:00pm

University of Vermont / Burlington


  • $2,000 - Three graduate credits

  • $1,790 - Certificate of Participation for 40 hours relicensing credits


$100 later registration fee after June 1. 


Tuition includes a private air-conditioned dorm room with centrally located private bath at the University of Vermont, plus breakfast and lunch. Everyone is on their own for dinner in Burlington. Lodging is optional.

Tuition Assistance

We have a limited amount of tuition assistance available for educators whose school district does not provide full tuition support.


If you school district does not provide professional development tuition support for the full Project Design Lab tuition, or if your part-time status does not qualify you for full tuition support, please complete the Tuition Assistance Form and we will be in touch soon.


Attend Solo or as a Team

You can attend solo or with a team from your school or district.


Teams can be composed of educators (classroom teachers, councilors, paras, special educators, staff, administrators) and can be from the same grades and content areas, or mixed.


Teams may include educators from different schools in the district if you want to design a multi-school project 

Teaching Artist Residency - OPTIONAL

Barbara and Lindsay are available for in-school residencies to support implementing your project. If you would like information on how to schedule a residency, complete the PDL Questions Form and we'll get right back to you. 


Visit the PDL FAQ page for answers to questions about team participation, tuition & fees, lodging & meals, daily schedule, teaching artist selection (optional), and more.

Project Snapshots

See examples of previous projects created at the Project Design Lab here


Complete the PDL Questions Form and we'll be back in touch soon.

Accessibility question mark icon

We invite you to let us know about specific accommodations you may need to participate in the Project Design Lab when completing your Registration Form, and we will make every effort to honor your request. 

Accrediting Institution

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