In 2005, I was hired to be a Drama Specialist at an Elementary school in New York City. I had ran my own theater company for eleven years by this time and was a Theater Arts Teaching Artist (TA) for ten of those years. I had just gotten my Masters in Educational Theater and passed the New York State tests to become a certified Theater Teacher.
The very beginning of September 2005, I found a program on a PBS show, POV. It so inspired me, so changed my thinking about dedication to teaching, that I carry that with me now that I am back as a TA. The show was a presentation on “The Hobart Shakespeareans” and their teacher Rafe Esquith.
This was a teacher who worked insane hours, worked in an overcrowded urban elementary school, obstacles left and right, and yet he produced magic with his students. Dedication, inspiration, and progressive thinking that he passes on in his classroom and through his books.
Oh…and he leads his students afterschool in Shakespeare Productions. Please watch this 3:46 video:
I bought the DVD of the program after it aired, and I have shown it to others over the years. They, too, have walked away inspired by a man who works within the boundaries of the school system but also beyond it, not letting him do less than he expects out of his charges. I can thank Rafe for giving me the courage to teach Shakespeare to my 4th and 5th grade students. When I heard all the disbelief from others in the school, I’d point to many others who don’t fear challenges. Rafe was always at the forefront, and even though we’ve never met, I will be grateful to him for what he taught me.
Rafe’s books are for Teachers AND Parents:
Discover an educator that inspires: Rafe Esquith
The Hobart Shakespeareans: The Merchant of Venice