Follow Your Dreams at Raue Center School

Robin Irwin considers her return to McHenry County not a matter of coincidence, but rather destiny.

“My childhood history is here, and I think there’s something to it,” says the McHenry native, who was recently named director of education and cultural partnerships at Raue Center for the Arts, in downtown Crystal Lake. “I just feel summoned.”

The new addition to the team behind Crystal Lake’s performing arts venue is helping to take its new Raue Center School for the Arts to the next level. The school offers a variety of group classes that pair up industry professionals with students of all ages – not just children age 18 months to 18 years, but also adults. Special production workshops put youngsters on the Raue stage as they partake in public performances.

For the youngest ages, Raue School’s Broadway Baby class invites toddlers to explore music, storytelling and movement. Tiny Tunes incorporates songs, rhymes, coordination and imagination into 45-minute classes for kids ages 3 and 4.

For older children, the Youth Musical Theater Ensemble expands vocal skills into small and large-group ensemble singing. Their work culminates in a final performance at Raue Center.

Behind the scenes of Raue Center School for the Arts is a team of talented professionals from the Chicago area. Irwin got her start at Judith Svalander School of Ballet in Crystal Lake. She appeared in international and regional productions, including the Tony-winning original Broadway production of “Titanic,” and she later served as the executive director of the Appalachian Center for Arts in Kentucky. Today, she’s showing area youths how art touches everything in their lives.

“You can walk down your hall, and I guarantee you there is some element of design, beauty, symmetry and color,” Irwin says. “Art touches everything. That’s what education is, that’s what art is, and that’s what I hope to instill in people.”

To register for upcoming classes, visit

Raue Center for the Arts is located at 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 356-9212.