A visit to Owensboro High School
Over the next several months, members of the EdTA staff, alone or in pairs, are spending time observing and meeting with professional members in their classrooms and rehearsal halls. The project was initiated by Executive Director Julie Woffington to help the staff engage with membership and refresh their understanding of the professional lives of theatre educators. From time to time, some staff members will recount their experiences here. Today, graphics specialist and production coordinator Susan Doremus and director of educational programs Nancy Brown talk about their day with Carolyn Greer, a theatre teacher at Owensboro High School in Owensboro, Kentucky. Photos by Susan Doremus.
High school theatre—and middle school theatre—is alive and vibrant in the hills of Kentucky. And it’s no wonder because the students are greeted by a ball of energy known as Carolyn Greer or Ms. Greer, to her students. She draws them into the world of theatre by offering a loving, open, energetic, and supportive environment.
Owensboro High School thoroughly supports theatre arts. Cast photos hang in the school’s main halls with all the sports team photos. And OHS has wonderful facilities. Ms. Greer teaches in a large black box theatre, and she also has access to a 700-seat proscenium stage theatre with up-to-date lighting, rigging, and sound equipment—all of which has just been renovated in the last two and half years. OHS also has a dance rehearsal room and three small sound-proof music rehearsal rooms in which they can record. Ms. Greer is a full-time theatre teacher. The school also has a full-time middle school theatre teacher and a part-time technical director.
Ms. Greer’s day starts with a Community Campus class which draws students from five different schools that don’t have theatre programs. The challenge with kids coming from different schools is that she is dealing with different ages and skill levels. Ms. Greer handles it all masterfully. The Community Campus class group was rehearsing a production of Action News by Jonathan Rand.
Next was a Drama I class. This was a much larger group of kids in the early stages of developing their theatre skills. This group was rehearsing a production of Can You Dig It on the proscenium stage. They were instructed to enunciate, not rush their lines, project, and ramp up their energy.
The final class was Advanced Acting. They were working through scenes from Check Please by Jonathan Rand. Students were advised to watch each other closely and take notes so they could give each other constructive feedback on their scenes. It was a lesson in listening and reacting to one another on stage, and in watching with a critical eye and learning to give useful notes.
What struck us most is that Ms. Greer is constantly available. A theatre educator has to be constantly available to their students. They have to be up, and out there— as opposed to us office workers who can hide away in our offices and bury our heads in our work for a few hours at a time. There is a constant need of the students for their teacher which requires a certain personality and energy level. We found that in spades in Ms.Greer.