Cindy Says: A Welcome, Fresh Start

Cindy Says: A Welcome, Fresh Start

By Cindy Ripley on September 07, 2021

Whether you are a teacher, director or both, you know kids and teachers alike are hoping for a fresh start this fall. Most likely you are experts on the tried and true tips to help kids succeed, but I know you would agree that this past year has been like no other for all of us.

Recently, I was thrilled to finally be physically together with our team at iTheatrics. Planning and brainstorming together again was a prescription we all needed. New visions and new staff added to the mix was exhilarating. I am excited to introduce Mary-Catherine Chambliss as another valuable resource for you. She was originally a "JTF kid" and in a 17-year time period has worked with iTheatrics as an adjudicator, teaching artist, and choreographer. Her path as an educator in Georgia eventually led to New York City, where she worked in various schools as program and curriculum director for youth theatre, most recently serving as Education Director for the Professional Performing Arts High School, Simon Baruch Junior High School, Yorkville East Middle School, and the Anderson School. A fun fact I love about this girl: she loves the challenge of connecting any curriculum under the sun to musical theatre! I am looking forward to you getting to know her, a new resource for sure!

Here are a few other ideas that in this season of constant change can help you support your students and YOURSELF. The transition to a "new scene" - a new school year can be emotionally exhausting.


Be intentional with how you greet your students. No one is better at this than arts educators. Students have been used to screen interactions, not face to face interactions, for too long. Forego the traditional back to school questions and take time to remember the fragile human side. An approach of positivity with engaging "smiles with your eyes" despite the mask, will create interactions with students that feel like they matter in a big way. I call it "emotional first aid".

Activate the power of play

Pre-school through high school, age doesn't matter. Infuse play and fun into as much as you can with your kids. This creates a deeper connection with students and helps to disarm stress and fears.

Brush up your work-life balance

Musical theatre directors have schedules that are anything but easy. Teaching now has added Covid responsibilities and duties that are not related to your passion. It is crucial to create a little "work hard, play hard" time. You AND your family will be happier.

Above all, be kind to yourself. You ARE making the world a better place, one musical at a time. Put it in your Director's notes - CR


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