May 24, 2019

Teaching Artist Appreciation Week!

Reading Time:   3 Mins

This week was Teaching Artist Appreciation Week! Thank you to all Teaching Artists and their hard work.

We featured stories from our #TeachingArtist Affairs Committee about a special Teaching Artist in their life. In case you missed any check them out below:

Carol Daniel

Nominated by: Justin Daniel

“My mom, Carol Daniel, was a puppeteer and arts educator, which meant that my childhood was surrounded by foam rubber, enormous plastic eyes, and the smell of a hot glue gun.  This instilled in me a whimsy, joy, and creative energy that has driven my personal and professional life and has brought me to stages around the world and into education spaces for young and old.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that my mom described herself professionally as a teaching artist; a term that I wasn’t even familiar with until I was receiving my Masters in Educational Theatre from NYU.  Her influence was vast, and while she has passed on, her legacy lives on through the Piccadilly Puppets Company, which is celebrating its 50th year of serving schools and families in Atlanta, GA!” // Justin Daniel, Teaching Artist

Renee Watson

Nominated by: Katie Rainey

“My first Mentor Teaching Artist was Renée Watson. She taught me how to really see students and she’s someone that challenges the lines between student & teacher in really unique and thoughtful ways. Renée showed me that it was okay to be emotional and vulnerable with our students, how to create transformative art from real-life challenges my students face. She’s an incredible artist and educator, and I think about her everytime I face something difficult in the classroom – thinking, “what would Renée do?” Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her children’s picture books and novels for teens have received several awards and international recognition. In the summer of 2016 Renée launched I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts. She launched the #LangstonsLegacy Campaign to raise funds to lease the Harlem brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and created during the last twenty years of his life. Her hope is to preserve the legacy of Langston Hughes and build on it by providing programming for emerging writers.” // Katie Rainey, Teaching Artist

Heidi Stallings

Nominated by: Erika Atkins 

“One of my favorite aspects of The New Victory’s Teaching Artist training process is that they assign each first year teaching artist a mentor. Although I had already been working on staff for a year when I joined the Teaching Artist Ensemble, I had the honor of being paired up as a mentee with the one and only Heidi Stallings in 2013.  Heidi Stallings has been teaching and coaching voice, acting, and musical theatre technique since 1992 and has worked as a teaching artist for over a decade with an organization such as The New Victory Theatre, Disney Theatricals, and The Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City. Her performance credits are extensive – including Grizabella in Cats on Broadway and in the First National Tour, Mrs. Primm in Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, and Amanda in Abel’s Island. Heidi is a strong believer in letting your artistry guide you as a teaching artist. While I have been a performer much longer than I’ve been an administrator, it’s easy to let the task manager side of myself take over in the classroom. However, Heidi constantly reminds me that I am also an artist and a performer in my own right and it is crucial for me to let that inform my teaching and for my students to see that part of me in the classroom. I am ever so grateful for her guidance and our friendship and the influence it has had on me as a teaching artist, administrator, and artist.” // Erika Atkins, Teaching Artist

Debbie Devine

Nominated by: Heleya de Barros 

“I met Debbie Devine, Artistic Director of 24th Street Theatre, in 2005 when I was an assistant in their after-school theatre program, After-Cool. Debbie has a personality that brightens any room–an infectious energy, a smile that couldn’t possibly be any bigger and vocal energy for days. When she exclaims, “FANTASTIC!” to a young person onstage you can see them grow a few inches taller with pride and confidence. What I learned from Debbie was balance. Her energy is incredible (and nearly impossible to match, trust me, I’ve tried), but she artfully counters that high energy (see picture) with a calm that allows a door to performance to open for all personalities. This balance is also a masterful way to model the high energy matched with focus that is required in performance. When Debbie calming calls, “restore” you see the whole room take a breath, find neutral, and bring their focus back to their community in the room. I still use “restore” in my own theatre classes today. And so many other tricks and tips I gleaned from Debbie and the whole team at 24th Street.” // Heleya de Barros, Teaching Artist

Karla Robinson

Nominated by: Jay Howard 

“When I was figuring out life and what it meant to be a teaching artist, you were there. I met Karla in 2014 after,  I left youth development after 2 years working for New York State Children & Family Services looking for ways to bring voice and creativity in the classroom through lyrics. I had a chance to continue working with incarcerated youth doing poetry workshops but that wasn’t enough. Karla, You challenged me to think critically about my philosophy, be relentless in my engagement of youth, and to “create” the creativity. Our one on ones after tough workshops provided me with an eye of positivity. A way of looking at bright spots through our impact, and connection on the ground. Most importantly, I was taught to keep things in my back pocket: Lesson plans, quotes, activities yes. But also my own inspirations. Self care was vital for Karla and remains one of her truths. Her first request for her teaching artist as director was to please identify 3 pieces of art that can support YOU as a facilitator and youth development professional. After your insight and my crossover into in school residency field, you recommended me for TAP where I fell in love with curriculum development and all its possibilities.It was in the Bronx and under your guidance where I found my calling. I was able to find meaning on the streets of teaching artistry at the intersection of reality and creativity.” //Jay Howard, Teaching Artist

Sara Morgulis

Nominated by: Meghan Grover 

“Sara Morgulis hired me as an education apprentice at NYC Childrens Theater (NYCCT) in August, 2016. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in theater education…. but where would I begin? I had never even been in a New York public school before!… At NYCCT Sara supported me with tools on how to be a teaching artist, from creating curriculum that supported the young people’s ideas, to collaborating with classroom teachers, to implementing programming in schools. She gave me opportunities to make connections outside of the classroom as well, such as with the interactive anti-bullying plays, Fair & Square and Alice’s Story, the new play, Please Bring Balloons (which she directed), and the multisensory play, Five. Sara also embraced my constant questions and excitement about this work (even when she was busy!!) — engaging in myriad discussions about theater and its role in young people’s lives, activism, and social change. She opened my eyes to various ideas, projects, and organizations and inspired me to go to grad school with the MA Applied Theatre Program at CUNY. I feel so lucky to have Sara as a mentor throughout this busy, challenging, beautiful theater education journey. She continues to answer my million questions about this field, applications, grad school (etc.) while also building her career as a brilliant Director of Education, applied theatre practitioner, playwright, activist, director, teaching artist (need I go on?!!?!!). Most importantly — she is a friend, and I love hanging out with her! Thank you Sara!!!”  //Meghan Grover, Teaching Artist

Mark Meyers

Nominated by: Kimberly Olsen

“There are people that come into your life who completely transform your view of the yourself and the world around you. For me, that person was my summer camp theater director and middle school band teacher (the many hats of arts educators!), Mr. Mark Meyers. With a booming voice, kind heart, and a Chaplin-esque quality of movement, Mr. Meyers was the first teacher who put me in a leadership role. As a child I was a part of “CREW” or the Children’s Repertory of East Williston, a gaggle of middle school-aged performers headlining at synagogues and senior centers across Long Island. In my mind, I made it. This was the big time. And to top it off, I was tasked to keep the show moving as the Master of Ceremonies (in addition to singing “Willkommen” from Cabaret, naturally). Never had I been given so much responsibility or felt such pride in what I was doing. All because Mr. Meyers saw something in me at that crucial time that I didn’t see in myself. Those lessons learned on stage laid the groundwork for my ability to command a room with confidence, flexibility, and energy. I later realized Mr. Meyers was also the person in charge of arts partnerships at my school. It is because of him that I met my first ever teaching artist. Little did I know, that would become the path for me! Now as a working teaching artist, I can only aspire to have a fraction of the impact Mr. Meyers had on me. I say with great appreciation that I am the educator and Managing Director am I today because of his impact.” // Kimberly Olsen