CentreTerm students teach drama in Danville schools
RELEASED: Jan. 25, 2006
By Rachel Parsons ’06
(This story was re-printed with the permission of the Danville Advocate-Messenger.)
DANVILLE, KYJohn Erwin’s fifth-grade class at Toliver Elementary School recently had the opportunity to watch a man turned into a donkey by fairies. This unlikely event occurred when Centre College students performed scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The actors are students in Jane Dewey’s “Theatre and Education” class being taught this CentreTerm.
After seeing the performance, many of the fifth-graders had their hands in the air.
“Is it hard to memorize the lines?” one child wanted to know.
“How do you decide how to act everything out?” another asked.
Dewey smiled. This was the type of exchange she had hoped for when she designed the course. Since Dewey is the director of art education for the Danville school system, it seemed like a logical choice to use this class as an opportunity to bring more arts into the Danville schools.
The course allows Centre students to see what it is like to teach the arts. Dewey has worked closely with the drama department at Centre in the past and was asked to create a unique course to be taught during CentreTerm.
The Centre students all agree that being able to work with the younger students has been a fun experience for them. Melissa Langdon hopes to apply the skills she has developed through the course to her future career.
“I’ve always been interested in theater and music education,” said Langdon, who someday hopes to become an arts educator.
Dan Kamykowski was excited about the opportunity to combine his education major and his drama minor in one class. The students said that they had a love of theater, so getting the chance to perform and share that love with others has been an exciting opportunity.
The course, which lasts for three weeks, can be broken down into four different segments. For the first five days of class, the Centre students were preparing for the work they would be doing in the classrooms. They had to prepare “hands-on” activities to share with the elementary and middle school students, as well as work on scenes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to perform and explain for the students.
Centre students will be in the classrooms for 10 days and share three different workshops with Danville students.
“They’ve had to wear a lot of hats and do a lot of juggling,” Dewey said of her students. “This is a pretty intense experience going into this many classes in this short a period of time,” Dewey says. “I was a little bit concerned about throwing this out to the Centre students, but they’ve handled it really well.”
During the first session, the elementary and middle schoolers will learn vocal and movement exercises and how a real artist might use these exercises. The Centre students had to create the exercises that would be taught to the Danville students and write formal lesson plans for the classroom activities. The second session will be the actual performances that the Centre students do for their pupils. The performances will take place in the individual classrooms and will allow the Danville students to see the principles and elements of theater put into action. The third and final session is a follow-up “hands-on” workshop.
The Centre students also must learn the Kentucky standards for arts education and incorporate these standards into their lessons.
“Even their performance is connected back to standards,” said Dewey. This means that the Centre students must explain what is going on in the scenes they are performing and discuss them with the students. They also are expected to use the terminology required of arts educators in Kentucky.
According to Dewey, there has been a “wide range of response” from the Danville students, but she also notes that “every class has enjoyed something and gained something.”
Though Dewey admits that some classes were reluctant to participate in the beginning, they became involved by the end of the lesson. She is excited about the opportunity to include more arts in the classroom and the benefits that students can gain from such exposure to the arts.
“Art helps the [students] explore new possibilities and learn that skills can be put together in different ways,” she says. “There are research-driven connections to learning in the arts and succeeding in other areas.”
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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