Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Only in Abilene

“O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt, burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!”  -  Hamlet, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5

Inadvertently, our theme for Summerfest 2014, “Catching Fire; Discover and Ignite Your Spark” was a perfect theme for our West Texas adventure in Abilene at McMurry University. The heat, the heat that chased us around relentlessly!  It was worrisome.  How would y’all react to a building without air conditioning?  You guys were amazing, understanding and incredibly flexible.  Thank you so much for being a part of SummerFest 2014, especially our new attendees.

Jenae Glanton just wrote a really great blog for TTN about finding only one word to change your life and I find myself these last few days pondering what my word would be. If you know me, then it should be no surprise that the first place I went was for the joke. Many jokes floated through my mind, most of them related to 30 Rock and Mean Girls, and after they cleared one word was left: content.

Last year was the worst year I’ve ever had as a teacher. It was a year of putting out fire after fire, of displeased advanced students, troubling theatre 1 classes, and the most difficult challenge ever: a willful 3 year old. I was ready to throw in the towel. Then a few rays of light shone down on my misery: I got to travel with my husband and his students to NYC and see great shows; my son started asking for bedtime stories and stopped screaming at us when he was upset, and SummerFest in Abilene. I was so, so happy in Abilene. I love serving as K-12 High School At Large and being on a committee with some of the funniest people you will ever meet. Thank you for letting me be a part of K-12. It has consistently been one of the best things going for me.

Now for a funny story that coined the title of this article! Saturday evening a large group of us got gussied up in costumes for midnight showing of a certain cult classic film. Justin Elliott won the costume contest before the movie started, and it was a well-deserved victory. The film itself was a disaster; they chose the wrong input. Still, fun was had! When we left, quite early in the morning, several of us felt that a jaunt to the IHOP was needed. Four of us were in our costumes and when we walked in, silence fell. Heads held high, we walked through the dining room, only to collapse in laughter at our booth.

The stares started to worry us after a few minutes. Would they ask us to leave? Then, the manager walked over and the fear really kicked in. Aw, man. I just wanted some pancakes. He cleared his throat awkwardly.

“Excuse me, folks. Several of the staff was wondering if they could take pictures with you.”

We could not have had a better time. It was awesome, and at the end of the night the manager insisted on taking 30% off our tickets. I believe it was Cody Moore who started the “only in Abilene” in our group. It stuck.

Content. I left Abilene feeling content, happy and relaxed. This will be my word this year and I will remember it if the demons from last school year attempt to pursue me. I will find contentment in every class, every show and every moment of this upcoming year.

See you at Theatrefest!

Victoria Perry
K-12 Committee
High School At Large

Sunday, August 3, 2014

SummerFest and Service

Jenae Glanton
TETA K-12 Committee
Vice-President Elect

This summer has been one of the best. I have had the opportunity to see several local, top-notch, professional theatrical performances. I have spent lots of quality time with family, friends, and Theater colleagues. My spirit is refueled!

Summerfest 2014 ignited my spark. Yes, it was hot but the heat wasn’t what kindled this fire! Seeing friends, making new friends and seeing so many new TETA Members in attendance truly made the weekend special.

We had remarkable numbers this year!
· 195 Attendees
· 77 New Members
· 46 Presenters
· Over 100 Workshops

Summerfest 2014 at McMurry University is a weekend that I will never forget. I would like to take this time to thank several people who helped make this event one of the best. To Sara, for creating amazing programming, for her ability to tackle anything thrown her way with grace and for teaching this K-12 Committee “rookie” the ropes. Words cannot express my gratitude.

I would like to thank the K-12 Committee. Each member helped plan and prepare for this event months in advance. The Committee arrived at McMurry a day early to set up. They each presented several workshops, helped organize the donation station, stocked snacks, made sure presenters felt welcome, greeted new members, managed dorms and they worked together to prepare the Sunday Luncheon. They helped strike the event and finally, they stayed late for a Summerfest 2014 closing meeting. They had such an amazing attitude along the way. We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful team representing K-12. I am grateful to each and every one of you: Sara, Gloria, Gena Lea, Darve, Cody, Victoria, Laura, Beth, Teresa, and Lindsey. Special thanks to Jewels Howard and her team, Charlie and Betty Hukill, Marion Castleberry, Travis Poe, Matt Perry, our volunteers and McMurry University. Thank you to all the special guests, artists, and presenters. Lastly, thank you to all the TETA members who attended Summerfest 2014! It was a weekend that we will never forget!

We had two special guests speak to the membership at Summerfest. Travis Poe spoke of the spark in all of us, that special gift we all have as teachers. In many cases, we never know how we truly affect the students we work with. Marion Castleberry reminded us that teaching from the heart, and being ourselves in the classroom is the most important tool we have in connecting with our students.

I drove home late Sunday afternoon feeling extremely tired yet ready to start the year! I was back on my campus Monday morning at 10am. As I sat in our first Department Chair meeting of the new school year, I was filled with so much excitement.

My principal gave each of us a book to read by August 15th: One Word by Jon Gordon. The book was an easy read. I read it in about forty-five minutes. It is all about finding one word to change your life. My principal instructed us to return on August 15th with one word that describes us. This was difficult for me. I thought, “only one word?” I then thought about Summerfest 2014 and Marion’s speech. Who am I? Who am I as an educator? Then I thought about this task this way: what if there was one word that could add clarity or power in a difficult situation? I immediately found my word: service.

This year I want to serve my school district and my community by being the best educator that I can be. I want to serve my students to the best of my ability. I want to ignite a spark within them, instilling a lifelong love of learning and Theater. I want to serve my family and be the best wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, and granddaughter that I can be. I want to serve organizations like TETA and Texas Thespians to give back to so many who have given to me. Service is my word. Service is who I am.

I encourage you to find your “word” for the year. I challenge you to explore service. I challenge you to share something with your fellow TETA K-12 Teachers. Submit a workshop proposal for Theatrefest 2015. Proposals are due by Nov. 1, 2014. Consider service. Consider giving back. Your service could ignite someone’s spark.

Have a great school year. Discover and Ignite the Spark within you. Share your spark with your family, your student’s, your community and your fellow Theater colleagues.

I look forward to seeing everyone at Theatrefest 2015!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

SummerFest Packing List

Are you attending SummerFest 2014?  Need an idea of what to bring with you?  Over the years we have compiled a SummerFest Packing List and I have included it in this article below.

SummerFest Packing List

· Comfortable clothes (some classes involve movement) (Be casual and come ready to learn in a relaxed environment!)
· Flip-flops are fine for most sessions, but you may want to bring a pair of closed-toe shoes too (often the scene shop requires this or you may want them for the movement classes)
· Toiletries
· Laptop and/or tablet/iPad (There will be wifi for all attendees this time!)
· Jump drive (to save shared lessons, etc.)
· Business cards (to share with new contacts) (There will be a holder for these in your binder this year!)
· Swimsuit (in case of an inviting hotel pool)
· Extra/Unwanted scripts (to share in Script Swap or to donate to the door prize room)
· Titles of plays you are planning for this year and ideas/questions
· Any needed supplies for sessions you are interested in attending (Check out Guidebook for the schedule)
· Costume for Rocky Horror Picture Show (if you plan to attend and want to dress up)
· Favorite Show Shirt – Traditionally we ask everyone to wear a favorite show shirt on Sunday. This is a great opportunity to share your artistic shirts and for all of us to get show ideas.

· Additionally, if you are staying in the dorms, the following information is for you!!

· Bring:
o Sheets
o Mattress pad ?
o Blankets and pillows
o Towels
o Small trash can (they have liners)
o Extra toilet paper
o Hand soap
o Small bath mat (optional)

· There's a community fridge in the dorm common area- label what's yours
· Microwave in dorm common area
· Smoking is allowed outside at least 20 ft away from doors
· There will be a Keurig machine for coffee in the dorm lobby so BYOKC (Keurig Cups)
· We'll also have creamer/sugar and cups
· Also in the dorm lobby: pool table, comfortable chairs, couches
· and a large screen TV/DVD player
· Dorm check-in is Friday between 1pm and 6pm

Gena Lea Smith
Secretary, TETA K-12 Committee

Monday, July 14, 2014

Surviving the Post Traumatic OAP Disorder

For some of us our OAP season was “short lived” so to speak, even though in our minds it was a state show, and if only the adjudicator would have seen it through our eyes. At contest, when the contest manager calls out all of the awards including the two advancing shows and then you kind of hold your breath and pray that your school will be next, but then your exhale and find that your not an advancing show. We then load ourselves onto our busses and head home, empty handed, no advancing play plaque, and 15+ heart broken children. You typically say an uplifting speech, send them home, and then “it” begins. My professional colleagues and I call “it” --Post Traumatic One Act Play Disorder.

I am no doctor, but listed are the typical warning signs of this disorder:
  1. PTOAPD usually begins with a director finding the nearest corner and crying--away from our children. (Side Note: Its kind of funny thinking of a 30 year old man crying in a corner listening to Celine Dion belt “All By Myself.”) 
  2. After this happens you may find yourself eating obsessively, especially foods high in fat, contain ridiculous amounts of sugar, and foods that may put a person in diabetic coma in the near future. 
  3. You become reclusive. 
  4. Your friends will send you text messages about why you are not responding to text messages. 
  5. On a typical day your mother calls you five times, but during PTOAPD she doesn’t even call once. 
  6. You find yourself sitting by yourself wanting to blame somebody. 
  7. You are bitter. 
  8. You question your career choices. 
  9. You feel like you have hit rock bottom. 

These typical warning signs will go away in 3 days to 5 years. (Why 5 years? I’m still bitter about a contest 5 years ago.)

Prognosis: I feel the best way I get over something is to start something new. I start planning for next year. I realize that the schools with advancing plays are dear friends of mine and that I must be happy for them because I know they would do the same for me. Going to the UIL OAP state meet helps. As soon as the Regional OAP competitors are posted on the UIL website, I order and read the shows off the list. Bonding time with your companies is strongly encouraged, because they are hurting and want answers. I sign up for SummerFest — it sparks new growth. I know that it gets better with time and love from your friends, family, and school. Know that those kids think that you have hung the moon, trophy or not. Please know that they are willing to do it all over again, because they love you, love the process, and love the art of Theatre.

Cody Moore
TETA K-12 Committee
HS Interest Chair

Treasurer’s Report

TETA is still in the process of seeking to obtain the complete financial books and records of TETA for 2013 and prior years. All the records were in the possession of Mr. Gene Dickey, the former Treasurer of TETA.

 TETA filed a civil suit to obtain the books and records but it was delayed because Mr. Dickey filed bankruptcy. However, an order was recently obtained lifting the stay so a writ could be issued by the civil court commanding Mr. Dickey to turn over TETA records in his possession. In response, TETA recently received a portable flash drive containing some documents that are now under review. At this point we do not know how complete the records are that we were provided. We are also still seeking to obtain records from other third parties to analyze the finances of TETA. So far, the reports that have been obtained are very incomplete. 

At the required meeting with the creditors in the bankruptcy case, Mr. Dickey asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege in response to most of the questions seeking information about finances and financial records. At this point it is still an ongoing and very difficult process, and TETA still does not have anything close to complete historical financial records.

We have hired a CPA to work on a late tax filing penalty accessed by the IRS for late filing of 2012 Form 990. Mr. Dickey apparently was working on getting an abatement of the penalty, but as of April 9, 2014, penalties are continuing to accrue. We are working on this.

TETA has also contracted with a Bookkeeper, who is helping reconstruct the books as best as can be done for the 2013 Form 990 filing, as well as helping me construct the proper format for keeping the 2014 books.

We will get through this, folks! And we will survive, and come out stronger in the long run.

I will soon be providing each member of the board a monthly copy of TETA’s bank statement which will allow each board member to personally examine income and expenses.

Next is an accounting of TheatreFest 2014's income and expenses. It includes membership dues, convention registration, and some donations. It does NOT include membership and dues deposited prior to January 24th since the deposit log has not been made available to TETA as of today.


Credit Card deposits from onsite registration and dues payments: $46,031.90
Cash deposits, onsite registration and dues $21,515.00
Checks onsite, or forwarded from Austin PO Box after TF14 $124,027.59
Ads, Sponsorships collected prior to 01/24/14; paperwork presented to new convention directors the week prior to TF14 $4,600.00

Total In $196,174.49

Expenses include onsite materials/supplies, Square fees, Presenter Honorariums, Awards, 2013 scholarship 2nd payments, some refunds, Guidebook, engraving, and reimbursement for convention invoices Jennifer Nichols had personally paid, submitted to Mr. Dickey for reimbursement prior to February, 2014, and when asked gave me a copy of the invoices, or had already given to new convention directors the week prior to TF14. Expenses do NOT include anything paid prior to January 24th. No invoices available for verification of checks written or credit card payments from previous bank, Southside Bank in Tyler, Texas.


Onsite expenses for materials, supplies, Credit Card fees $3,657.62
Honorariums to presenters, Paper winners, 2013 scholarship 2nd payments, refunds, Guidebook $46,019.74
Engraving $449.00
Reimbursement to Jennifer Nichols, convention expenses $2,514.49

Total Out $52,640.85

Net $143,533.64

And now a new subject:
I encourage all members who register for SummerFest 2014 and choose to pay registration with a check from your school district, PLEASE remember to request that the school district include your REGISTRATION FORM, or INVOICE along with the check. 

TETA’s new address:
650 W. Bough Ln., Suite 150-199
Houston, TX. 77024

Also, please remember that if you have not paid your dues, you must do so in order to attend SF14.

I hope you will take advantage of the wonderful learning opportunities there will be at SF14. I hope you will leave with inspiration and eagerness to return to your classroom with new ideas you can’t wait to share with your students. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to share, inspire, and bond with other K-12 teachers and directors by attending the K-12 Summer Workshop.

On another note, I again want to thank the membership for electing me as TETA’s Treasurer/CFO. I am finding the job challenging and very interesting. Keeps my brain working overtime!!!

I look forward to exciting days ahead, working with you, and with this very energized Board of Directors.

Rachel Mattox
TETA Board of Directors