From 3 to 13, a decade of Art


Hi. My name is Zoey Weinstein. I started taking dance at Hope Stone when I was three years old. My mom wanted me to take a simple creative movement class, but it turned out to be so much more. I met some of my best friends at Hope Stone, but most of all I discovered myself. I think Hope Stone has given purpose to many kids throughout the years, and they continue to give back today.
After Hope Stone closed its studio doors in May 2014, I didn’t know what to do. Since then, I’ve realized that you don’t really know how much you’ve gotten out of something until it’s gone. Now, I see that Hope Stone has led me beyond the dance steps. It has taught me to work with an ensemble and helped me become who I am today. I am creative, confident and expressive 13 year old teenager.
This year, I have the amazing opportunity to intern with Hope Stone as an assistant teacher to my former theater teacher and mentor Gayla Miller. The school where we teach is called Generation One Academy. It is a school in Houston’s Third Ward that does not have a full-fledged arts program. The kids I teach are six years old and they are always so enthusiastic and walk into class with a smile. These kids come from tough backgrounds, but they all have positive attitudes and are extremely creative. Their answers to questions always surprise me in the most wonderful way! There was one moment that really stood out to me in a recent class. There is a little boy in the class named Kevin who has always been shy, but one day I realized he was playing the games and doing the exercises perfectly and confidently. The kids listened to a song and had to say what it sounded like to them. The song was mellow and kind of magical sounding. Kevin raised his hand and said, “It sounds like Tinker Bell sitting on the couch.” I could not believe what I had just heard! He described the song perfectly. I would have never thought of it that way. I hope I give these kids an amazing experience every week, because what they give me is priceless.
Aside from teaching at Generation One, I participate in a theater class at Brookdale, an assisted living facility for senior citizens. There are about 10 of my former Hope Stone classmates and 10-15 residents in the class. I love seeing seniors so happy to be learning theater with a bunch of teenagers. I can tell by how they act that they are so grateful to have Hope Stone in their lives, as am I. All of us have grown throughout this year. One resident named Linda stands out in particular. She began the class barely being able to speak. Attending a theater class with a group of teenagers was a brave decision on Linda’s part. Now, she speaks audibly and in full sentences. Fast forward to this spring; Linda is now speaking loud enough for everyone to hear her. She went from barely being able to participate to being fully invested in this class. All of these seniors have been so committed in coming to class every week and I respect them so much for that. Despite the age barrier, we all enjoy each other’s company and have fun together. I love hearing their amazing childhood stories and being able to relate to them even though we are from different generations.
I realize more and more that I am so privileged to have an amazing organization like Hope Stone in my life. I would love to thank all of the teachers and mentors who have guided me throughout the years and helped shape the person I am today. Art, at any age, in any form, is critical to the human spirit. Hope Stone is doing an incredible job of living their slogan. Art for All.

Note–I was Zoey’s teacher at the age of three, and have watched her grow as an amazing young artist and a compassionate human being. Hope Stone Proud.
~j. weiner