Words by Jay Gibson, Director of Library Services
One of the best things about teaching at Academy at the Lakes is seeing the effect our Fine Arts programs have on our students.
When I interact with a student in the classroom, I only see his or her academic persona, the one that is intellectually focused, and relating to me as the teacher through the material we cover in class. In the library, I get to collaborate on researching something they need to succeed in a class.
But when I get to work with them backstage during the school musical, I meet a different person in the same student.
When we meet, I often get to take students backstage for their first time. I see their wonder at how the dream is made real. I watch them bring ingenuity to solving spatial problems (“Another prop? Sure, we can find room for that”), learn intricate choreography while moving hundreds of pounds of scenery (“let’s try not to hit any actors”), and earn real respect from peers and adults as they get faster and smoother making scene changes (“Amazing – how do you do that so fast?”).
Watching a teenager go from never having held a paintbrush to hiding behind a set while repairing it during the actual production is transformative for both of us.
Best of all, I get the gift of their partnership as we get through a grueling production schedule.
When we share the excitement of opening a show, in-show jokes, getting an exasperating crewman to finally hit his cues, and taking a curtain call at the end of the run, I see the whole person, and a glimpse of the adult they will become.
The arts nourish the soul and help grow character and I see this in every student with whom I work backstage.
Look at what our children take away. Every student here will learn to play a musical instrument, or sing in a chorus, or act in school productions.
When they master reading music, their mathematical ability improves. When they have been onstage in front of hundreds of people, they have confidence with college professors.
Our society demands collaborative team skills in the workplace. Playing in an orchestra, performing in plays, or singing in a chorus enhances these important abilities. They are more competitive than their peers because they worked with, and not just for, the teachers who guided them.
I agree with President Obama that “The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.”
Here at Academy’s Fine Arts program, we teach imagination.
Academy at the Lakes is a PreK3 – 12th Grade independent school located in North Tampa. We celebrate the love of learning and the joy in the journey.