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Theater Education as Healing: Reflections from a Teaching Artist Assistant

Posted 8 January 2013 12:00 AM by Jeremy Gooden

In July of 2012, I served as a teaching artist assistant in the City Spotlights Leadership Program with the Citi Center education department. Due to a devastating personal loss this summer, I made the decision to take some time off from school. When word got out that I would not be returning to campus in the fall, my extended family bombarded me with questions about how my hiatus would affect my education. I answered each question in a manner that would make any politician proud. My responses were wordy, but provided no concrete answers because quite frankly, I had no idea what I was going to do during my time away from school.

Soon after my familial press conference, I was offered a position with the Citi Performing Arts Center to work at three schools with children of 3 different age groups. Being a theatre major and education minor, I jumped at the opportunity. Fast forward 3 months, and our students have successfully created and performed their very own artistic pieces. During my family's Christmas dinner, I made it a point to boast about my students' successes. While passively telling off my family was great, it was not nearly as rewarding as watching children glow with pride as they displayed their new-found talents.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to watch my students experience the range of emotions that theatre evokes: the terror of opening night; the joy of hearing an audience applaud for you; and the pride that accompanies the final bow. Each and every one of my 1st, 2nd, and 6th graders refreshed my memory as to why I love theatre and more specifically, theatre education. Both are beautiful collective experiences and expression.

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