As I look back on this year, I can definitely say that this year has been the year of theatre. I spent a week with the UCLA History-Geography Project and the LGBT Center of Los Angeles developing lessons about LGBT history. I was then fortunate to spend three weeks in New York City through two summer teacher professional development programs. Applications for these programs are open now. These professional development opportunities are unlike any other experience. They are interactive. They are intentionally designed. They are filled with laughter (and some tears). They are filled with connections and new friendships.
First, I was selected to be part of a cohort of K-12 teachers who learned about LGBT history and the FAIR Act. Too often the histories of LGBT people go unnoticed. The FAIR Act requires that the history of LGBT people, people with disabilities, and under-represented cultural groups be included in history curriculum. Part of the reason these groups get ignored is that textbook companies and curriculum developers do not provide adequate resources. Therefore, the UCLA History-Geography Project and LGBT Center of Los Angeles provided us with a week of learning, walking tours, and archival research at the ONE Archives at USC. The lessons have been published and I hope that teachers integrated the stories of LGBT people who continue to face discrimination and positive effect change in the world. Check on this LINK to the lesson plans (the one I created is on Harvey Milk and the Briggs Initiative).
Second, I was part of the Gilder Lehrman Summer Institute titled, "9/11 and American Memory," which took place at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. I met some amazing teacher from across the country, heard lectures about the importance of teaching about 9/11, and collaborated to created lesson plans for all grade levels. Hopefully the lessons will be available through the Gilder Lehrman website, but I have attached the one I created about media literacy. The lesson focuses on comparing perspective and purpose of newspaper front pages by comparing publications on September 12, 2001.
One of the highlights of the experience was being able to see Come From Away, a musical about the people of Gander, New Foundland who helped people whose planes were diverted. The show is one of the most amazing stories about hope, charity, and kindness. I have never attended a show where the minute it is over the entire audience jumps to their feet in a standing ovation. I did see if two more times in Los Angeles, this fall and this definitely held true. The show left an indelible mark that there are truly good people, who when are called, serve others with no questions asked.
Lastly, I was part of a cohort of teachers who participated in a summer seminar through the National Endowment for the Humanities hosted by the Polansky Shakespeare Center and Theatre for a New Audience. For two week, we read Merry Wives of Windsor, Macbeth, and King Lear with Shakespearean scholars, actors, and directors. We learned about the importance of teaching theatre in classrooms and how theatre games build community. We made tableaus, acted out scenes, and staged the final act of King Lear. Two theatre trips were organized and we got to see Taming of the Shrew at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and a final staging of NINAGAWA Macbeth in Japanese (with supertitles) at the Lincoln Center. And one of the best moments was being able to turn the pages of one of the Folio's at the Columbia Library special collections.