It’s been a long road for Hammond Academy of the Performing Arts in Hammond, Indiana. The Academy was established in 2010 as part of Morton High School. In the 1980s, Greg Easton, the current principal of Morton, teamed with various neighboring teachers and administrators to start a performing arts school in Hammond. Among the schools in the town, Morton was chosen because it had the best facility to house such an arts program but that didn’t mean the plan would be without pitfalls. Morton High School is a Title-1 school, meaning many of the students receive free or reduced lunch and services and face socio-economic challenges.
While teacher salaries are paid for by the district, the program itself must be self-sufficient. “Everything we spend, we make,” explains Easton.
A college professor once told me to write the following in my notebook at the beginning of our very first class: “There is no such thing as a child who hates music. But there are plenty who hate music teachers.” He then said if that is the only thing I remember from his class, it will be enough. Forty years later, it is the only thing I remember from that class. But its wisdom guided much of what I accomplished as a teacher and director.
Below are a few things I picked up from my forty years of teaching that I hope will help you succeed in your career as a teacher.
Whether you are more comfortable with a structured, linear rehearsal process or a more improvised, spontaneous approach, children, young and old, will sense if you are unprepared, stressed and/or ill-equipped for the task ahead.
The Theatrical Rights Worldwide Partnership Team was created in 2008 to provide human resources to schools in our community, New York City, that need a helping hand creating theatre programs, or enhancing existing departments. Our experiences in the NYC schools have brought us far more insight than we ever imagined. Seeing the faces of kids lighting up a stage for the first time as they discover the joy of artistic collaboration is exhilarating!
In October 2009 the Partnership Team began our work with over sixty first and second graders from the Family School, in the Bronx at P.S. 90, coordinated through Music Specialist Justin Dayhoff and Principal Pamela Lee. November saw the class take the stage for the first time to the delight of the hundreds of family and friends who filled the school’s lovely old auditorium.
The Theatrical Rights Worldwide Partnership Team was created in 2008 to provide human resources to schools in New York City that need a helping hand with their Arts programs. In October 2009 the Partnership Team began working with over sixty kindergarten, first and second graders from the Family School, coordinated through Music Specialist Justin Dayhoff and Principal Pamela Lee. The first session was a huge success, ending with an after school performance of several short plays.
After the success of the first session…the Morning Project took shape and by mid-January, over thirty Family School kids were ready to meet Mondays through Thursdays from 7:20-8:20am each morning to discover the fun and beauty of exploring acting through storytelling.
Hillcrest High School in Midvale, Utah presented the Utah high school premiere of CURTAINS, November 18-21, 2009, with a superb production. TRW’s Broadway blockbuster features a book by Rupert Holmes, based on a concept by Peter Stone, with a classic score from the legendary Kander and Ebb.
CURTAINS played over 500 performances on Broadway, and received eight 2007 Tony® Award nominations including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actor (A Winner for David Hyde Pierce), Best Actress, Best Featured Actress, Best Direction and Best Choreography. Kander and Ebb’s amazing score is perfectly woven into the fabric of the unfailingly clever book.
CURTAINS is set in the brassy, bright, and promising year of 1959. Boston’s Colonial Theatre is host to the opening night performance of a new musical.
The Theatrical Rights Worldwide Partnership Team was created in 2008 to provide human resources to schools in New York City that need a helping hand with their Arts programs. The Family School opened in September, 2009 with a unique mission that is a perfect fit for our outreach program. In October 2009 the Partnership Team began our work with over sixty first and second graders from the Family School, coordinated through Music Specialist Justin Dayhoff and Principal Pamela Lee. November brought a follow-up assessment meeting between the Theatrical Rights team and Dayhoff and Lee that resulted in an agreement to continue the drama/music program in a new session that began in January, 2010. The program features an extended schedule, including an early morning before-school component.
The TRW Partnership Team just spent three amazing weeks with The Family School, Bronx, NY, working with their Kindergarten through 2nd graders on their first drama project! Team leaders Fred Stuart and Andrew Rainbow from the TRW Partnership Team worked with over 60 students, aided by Justin Dayhoff, the Family School’s music specialist and Family School staff.
Each class focused on the basic skills of drama and…on having fun! Breaking the group into four casts, the second week saw the development of a short play for each group. By week three, each group was in the final stages of remembering their lines and learning the awesome song composed by TRW’s Andrew Rainbow.
Finally on Thursday, October 22, 2009, The first Family School Drama Program show premiered!