Our Origin and Focus
The Märchen Sagen Academy, Inc. is a non-profit organization focused on developing humans and their awesome ideas. From a historic home on the square in Downtown Decatur, we also host a video and audio production after school program for kids ages 8 to 12 called The Märchen Sagen Academy for Visual Storytellers. The program involves hands on, in studio exercises, walking field-trips, and in small groups, collaborative use of professional and consumer level cameras, lighting and recording equipment with goal of creating amazing videos and music. It’s vision is to inspire and develop a community of youth and their ideas through the arts.
From 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. the Houston House at 418 Church Street transforms into a warm and nurturing space of creative energy, where kids are taught how to unlock their magic. The program provides instruction in the fundamentals of video production, filming on green screen, recording audio, producing and recording voice-overs, making electronic music, working with musical instruments, artist development, basic song writing and producing music for video. The afterschool has daily sessions in operation with the City of Decatur Schools calendar, and provides a full-day program during Summer and breaks called “K.A.M.P.” (kids and multimedia production).
Our unique name is derived from the two words which many folklorists believe are the source of all oral tales. The words are old Germanic, of which, there are no English equivalents, but there are approximations. Märchen loosely translates to a fairy-tale, or something clearly not meant to be taken as true. Sagen, on the other hand, is understood to mean “legend”, or something that actually happened (something fantastic probably happened too, making it a legend).
The Märchen Sagen Academy was founded by Couleen LaGon, a professional videographer and music producer. Couleen began his post military career designing internet infrastructure as a network consultant. Although successful, Couleen found it difficult to manage in life and work and was haunted by the need for escapism that he initially experienced as a Cryptologic Technician in the Navy. Couleen found himself depressed, jobless, with his family displaced and homeless. Through a series of profound spiritual experiences, an awakening occurred that provided much needed focus and energy. With a self-written 8-page project plan, Couleen secured $64,000 from a private investor to start a record label. Soon after, an artist he developed was signed to Interscope Records, he secured production deal with Ceelo Green and signed a publishing deal with Sony/EMI music publishing. As an independent content creator, Couleen has also established himself as sought after producer of promo and informational videos for large corporations, nonprofits and small businesses.
Al, as his friends call him, has spent the last 18 months focusing his life and technical experiences into developing a nonprofit. The Märchen Sagen Academy is focused on developing humans and their ideas, and hosts the Visual Storytellers Afternoon Enrichment Program. Housed in a 112 year old house on the square in Downtown Decatur, Märchen Sagen has established itself as a light in the community. Teaching kids ages 6 to 12 the magic, art and science of video and audio production, Couleen teaches kids daily the fundamentals of stop-motion animation, recording voice-overs, electronic music production and creative thinking. Couleen is also working to establish a mentorship program for local high school kids in video and audio production. The core of the instruction is to teach kids that they can co-create their worlds and not compete for it.
"Mr. LaGon served CL as an expert to our third graders as they prepared and filmed their Habits of Scholarship PSAs. He took this role seriously and put a good deal of time and attention towards creating a lesson that was accessible to the students. Any time we can get experts from the field to work with our students, we are creating some of the richest opportunities we can for them. Mr. LaGon was a great asset in helping us support the students in creating a well crafted final product." -Mrs. Erin Gutfreund, Principle
Join by his wife, Arianna LaGon, a study in the philosophy of Reggio Emelia, and preschool teacher for Druid Hills United Methodist Preschool (DHUMP). Arianna was one of the pioneers of the full immersion Italian Pre-K program at the school. A native of Naples, Italy, Arianna was born into a family of chefs and restaurateurs. She will also be in charge of our selection of healthy snack options daily. Mrs. LaGon moved to Atlanta a decade ago and has over 20 years of early childhood development experience.
Our Assistant Coordinator is Alexis Haggerty. A photographer and recent graduate of Georgia College & State University, Alexis has worked with local nonprofits and is a support system the kids at The Märchen Sagen Academy. She provides guided support in developing and editing videos, teaching kids the fundamentals of iMovie and DSLR camera use.
Our Operations Manager is Toni Dixon, MBA. Toni is currently the Director of Foundations for the Atlanta Mission, leading the organization in fund raising initiatives and participation in community service efforts. Toni is all the director of a non-profit for at-risk youth, called Word For The Nations Nonprofit, Inc. She has over 13 years of experience in non-profit management, fund-raising and management consulting.