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VIDEO: Theater in Our Schools

by Sonya Jones 20 Mar 2012 3:44 PM

Four Dallas-area theater educators discuss their perspectives on theater & arts education in North Texas.


The American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) has declared March “Theater-In-Our-Schools Month.” In recognition, Art&Seek talked to four Dallas-area theater educators on the subject of arts education.

NANCY SCHAEFFER has served Dallas Children’s Theater since its founding in 1984, first as a teacher and actor and now as Director of all Education Programs and outreach activities. A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Ms. Schaeffer has directed numerous DCT productions including How I Became a Pirate; don’t u luv me?; Madeline’s Christmas; EAT (It’s Not About Food); Goodnight Moon; The Secret Life of Girls; Stuart Little; and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Ms. Schaeffer also directed DCT’s highly successful touring production of The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fair(l)y (Stoopid) Tales which toured the US and then traveled to Shanghai, China playing at the 2006 Shanghai International Children’s Culture and Arts Expo. As Education Director, Ms. Schaeffer oversees numerous programs including: DCT Academy, which offers year-round classes to more than 1,200 young people, ages 3 through 18; Curtains Up On Reading, an in-school residency program that integrates drama, literature, language arts, social studies, and history; After School and Summer Drama Classes that benefit “at-risk” youth through eight after-school satellite arts programs, and DCT’s Teen Scene, which nurtures the theater audiences and professionals of tomorrow by opening communication between teens, theater professionals and the community at large.  She is also the primary contact with area Educators and District Leaders as well as other Education Directors from area cultural institutions.

CARLA FORD-RICH is currently the Speech and Theatre Coordinator for Plano Independent School District.  She has been in Education for 34 years, and she has taught in Plano for 29 years, opening Plano West Senior High School in 1999.  Prior to that she taught at Shepton High School and Vines High School.  She has been named Teacher of the Year on each campus she has taught. In 2004, she was named Theatre Educator of the Year from the Texas Educational Theatre Association.  She is married to her best friend, Steve, and they spend their free time pampering three beautiful Chihuahuas.

DUSTINA “DUSTY” REASONS has been creating drama professionally and academically for over ten years. She has an MA in Theatre Performance and Theatre for Young Audiences from Oklahoma City University and a BA in Musical Theatre. She currently serves as the theatre department program coordinator at Eastfield College, and she is also a professional actress, designer, and vocalist. Dusty has taught creative drama with the Oklahoma Children’s Theatre, Dallas Children’s Theatre, and Dallas Theatre Center, and she has taught drama in the Dallas County Community College District for four years.

JON MARK HOWETH first began in Destination Imagination (DI) as a team member and later became a Team Manager in college. He has consistently managed the same team for the past four years since they were in fourth grade, and he is proud that they have qualified and competed at Global Finals for the past four consecutive years. In 2009, his team won the elementary Global Championship for ViDIo Lit Hits, and in 2011 they won their second Global Championship in the middle school level for Triple Take Roadshow. After being a member of the first graduating class from Frisco Centennial High School, Jon Mark was accepted as 1 of 30 into Boston’s Emerson College acting program. He has since returned home to Dallas to finish his two bachelors degrees in acting and literature, and recently completed student teaching at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Working with such incredible students & DI kids inspired Jon Mark to design and create the concept of Journey Camp for Texas DI, and he is deeply honored that he has been given the opportunity to see his dream become a reality.

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