HARKER HEIGHTS — A lifelong dream is coming to fruition for an Iduma Elementary School art teacher and Heights resident who transformed an orange school bus into a business inspired by a Haitian mode of travel.
Amelia Rabroker, owner and instructor of Tap Tap Art School, has taught art classes at community centers and other venues in Central Texas.
She had a vision to take her classroom on the road and reach out to all areas via a traveling schoolroom.
“Advocating the visual arts has been my lifelong passion,” Rabroker said. “After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in elementary education and a specialization in art education, I was fortunate to start my career at Killeen ISD ... where I have had the privilege to mold thousands of children into little artists.”
Rabroker began teaching fourth grade at Clear Creek Elementary School where she created an after-school art
club. Her idea caught on and she now has contracts with private schools, and offers party plans and summer programs.
Tap Tap buses, a common mode of transportation in Haiti, are brightly painted school buses.
The art on all sides of the buses includes graphics of various themes, including biblical, sports and commercial.
The name “tap tap” came from passengers who would tap the ceiling of the bus to request to be dropped off.
“After 10 years of wonderful experiences and professional growth, I decided it was time for me to change and grow in a different direction,” she said, adding she came up with the idea after teaching a lesson on the tap tap buses of Haiti. “Instead of taking kids off campus, I come to them. For the kids it’s like they are taking a field trip without the liability aspect of actually going off campus.”
Vividly painted a Kelly green with airbrushed graphics, the former Temple school bus, once the traditional orange, doesn’t resemble its old look.
Airbrush artist Van Otto painted images Rabroker chose to create a vibrant and welcoming home for her business.
The vividly painted green bus is an attention-getter with one side displaying graphics of donors and artwork children created.
The other side of the bus is a work in progress, but will include more of the art students have displayed at previous art shows.
Venturing outside of a classroom stemmed from her wanting to have a more flexible schedule to spend more quality time with her children, Clayton, 13, and Cecilia, 2.
“(The idea) came like a bolt of light. I was on my way to pick up my daughter from school and was wanting to have a more flexible schedule,” she said. “I thought, why not have a traveling art school?”
Tap Tap classes, taught in the mobile classroom, combine art and culture.
Every class has a theme, and not only art is taught, but also how other people throughout the world live and how those lives are expressed through art.
An inspiring influence in Rabroker’s business has been Enka Cole, owner of the Children’s Tree House Center of Killeen, who supports children’s development through art.
“It supports self-esteem. Art really is a vessel where children can express themselves,” she said. “It’s an integral part of enrichment that supports academics.
For more information on the Tap Tap Art School, visit www.taptapartschool.com.
Ginny Simpson with FME News Service contributed to this article.