First “Theatre Day for Teachers” a Success

Photo: Mike Peters

Visiting professor David Montgomery of New York University (second from left) leads high school theatre teachers through some exercises.

Over 80 New Jersey high school theatre teachers gathered at the University in January to participate in the first ever “Theatre Day for Teachers.” Organized by the College of the Arts’ Department of Theatre and Dance, the full-day event provided participants with opportunities to attend performance- and production-related workshops, network with peers, share best practices and learn about the theatre programs at the University.

Theatre Day for Teachers was conceived by Susan Kerner, associate professor of theatre and dance, in response to the need for professional development opportunities for secondary school arts teachers in the state. “High school theatre teachers are dedicated professionals who do everything in their productions from choreography to lighting design. They are looking for ways to enhance and expand their skills,” says Kerner. “This event was organized to help meet that need and to give participants an opportunity to exchange ideas with fellow high school theatre arts professionals.”

With a dozen workshops on topics such as audition techniques, Broadway choreography, stage management and theatre games, participants had ample opportunity to learn about the latest trends and techniques in theatre and to take away new ideas to use in the classroom and at rehearsal. Taught by faculty of the Theatre and Dance Department and visiting theatre professionals, the workshops were timely, informative and lively.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive reactions of the high school teachers, Kerner believes the Theatre Day for Teachers should be an annual event. “With such an enthusiastic response in the first year, we plan to continue this program and possibly expand this day-long conference to a week-long summer institute at Montclair State,” she says.