I have been thinking about that statement lately and agree that being an elementary school theater teacher is rather like being a unicorn. We are indeed a rare find in most school districts and teaching theatre to the very young is magical. I am the only elementary theatre teacher in my large district and many times I am told by the secondary theatre teachers that they could never imagine teaching to such young students and that I must have a lot of patience. I always reply that even though some days it is hard and does try my patience, I love being the first spark of interest to the art form of theatre. I love building a curriculum that allows me to see the growth in my students year after year, and giving them a foundation to build on, especially if they continue with theatre in their secondary education.
I have learned much over the years through trial and error, but I have learned even more from attending TETA TheatreFests and SummerFests and regularly connecting with other teachers like myself. Since we are such a rare breed, I find myself reaching out to connect with others who also understand what it is like to hold the attention of 21 five year olds after someone just lost their tooth, or needed their shoes tied or had a major crying meltdown just because they weren’t first. TETA has given me the chance to connect to others out there like myself to learn and share ideas with. I know I am a better teacher as a result of attending so many workshops over the years. When asked if I wanted to run for the Elementary Member at Large for the K-12 Committee, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, because I knew it would enable me a chance to give back to an organization that has given so much to me. One of the main responsibilities of the K-12 Committee is to organize TETA’s annual SummerFest each year. Being on the committee has given me a chance to make sure elementary teachers are represented and have workshops specifically geared for them. Since elementary teachers are a small group within the organization, I feel it is my job to help to serve the other “unicorns’ out there and to connect with each other.
In a perfect world, I wish every elementary school could have a theatre arts teacher, but for now, I will have to settle for being the “unicorn” in my district and spark the interest of Theatre to the students at my school, with hopes that one day that spark will ignite a flame from within.
TETA K-12 Committee
Elementary Member at Large