The greatest need our students face is figuring out how to be proactive and how to find answers themselves. The education system is in many ways set up to shepherd students through an institution without really telling them anything about it. Students get very frustrated when they encounter red tape and they give up. For a lot of our students, there have been no immediate consequences for giving up on themselves or on their grades or on a club or a team they’ve joined. The students who know how to make themselves seen and heard don’t fall through the cracks. The best thing I can do as a Coach is go in and teach students how to advocate for themselves and how to navigate the logistics of being independent.
Having grown up in the theatre and having gone to school for it made me incredibly collaborative. I’m very comfortable adapting to different situations, different personality types and reflecting to the students a ‘we’re all this together’ type of attitude. I think you have to be super improvisational to do this type of work. To be a teacher in general is like very complicated improv because you have to answer questions all day and make decisions really fast, on the spot. All three of my passions – writing, performing and teaching – all require a really intensive flow-like presence that actually is pretty hard for me as a person.
When you’re constantly going into new schools and meeting new students and always having to reestablish who you are, you have to do a little bit of a song and dance and put on a show. The students we work with come to you because they trust you or if they think you’re cool or funny and they want to hang out with you. We’re often not in a school long enough to have the luxury of building up trust over a long period of time and have the history with the students. You’ve got to know how to hook teenagers to get them to want to talk to you. I think actors are often good at that.