I am the Drama Specialist at Baker Demonstration School, an independent Pre-K -8 school just North of Chicago. I integrate drama into the classroom curriculum to make amazing things happen with students. If I could, I would grab hold of Arne Duncan and tell him three things:
1. FUND MEANINGFUL ARTS EDUCATION AS A CORE SUBJECT IN AMERICAN EDUCATION
Art helps children to problem-solve imaginatively. Children who learn how to talk to each other and to work together peacefully to solve problems will be less likely to resort to violence. Non-violence and mutual understanding is at the core of my work with children. Through drama, children find their voices both individually and in community with others.
2. LISTEN TO CHILDREN
Return dialogue and choice to the classroom community. Teachers who talk and listen to their students are more effective. Allow children to have a say in how they learn what they must learn. They will be happier and more engaged in their learning. Children are excellent collaborators. Engaging with my students makes my heart sing. The longer I teach, the braver I get when it comes to allowing children to help shape the way we study the Arts, Language Arts, History and Social Studies through Drama in my classroom.
3. RETURN REAL PLAY INTO THE SCHOOL DAY
I can tell when children have had time to play during the day whether it is on the playground or in the classroom. Play facilitates learning and allows children of all ages to engage socially and intellectually. Children who have time to play are happier and more responsive learners. Sometimes I have to remind my students that we are “playing to learn” in drama class. Aren’t we happier when we make time for play in our adult lives?
I have given KEYNOTES, a zillion workshops for teachers and theatre artists, written scholarly articles, essays and a chapter of a book on Storytelling in the Classroom. I tell stories and teach yoga to Kindergarten students. I have taught college classes, performed at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a supporting role and had a successful career in the professional theatre. I am a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association. I was a company member of the acting company of The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I also developed their Performing Apprentice Program for young professional actors ages 18-35. I teach Acting, Performance Poetry, Shakespeare and both Creative and Process Drama at Baker Demonstration School, my K-8 progressive school. I love teaching drama, being in the classroom or in rehearsal with my students.