Theatre educators from across Alabama will have the opportunity to earn state-approved professional development hours at the Summer Spotlight Teachers Intensive hosted by Troy University and the Department of Theatre and Dance beginning July 21.
Summer Spotlight is an arts education program initiated in 2009 that offers day camps for children and youth as well as week-long intensives for high school and college students—and now teachers.
Tori Lee Averett, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said organizers spent time surveying educators about what they were looking for in professional development courses and what they needed in their programs before preparing to launch in 2020. After a two-year set back due to COVID and getting the other programs back up and running, Averett said this summer was the perfect time for the pilot.
“This has been a long time coming for something we’ve always known we wanted to do,” she said. “We always strive for ways to connect with teachers and those who will be teachers someday, so we are constantly on the lookout for ways that we can serve Alabama’s theater and arts educators.”
The two-day intensive begins on the evening of Thursday, July 21 with a welcome reception in downtown Troy, Ala. to establish goals and expectations while also providing participants with the opportunity to network. After the welcome, they’ll attend a cabaret produced and performed by students in the Performance and Technical intensives.
“It’s a nice bit of inspiration about why we’re doing what we’re doing, getting to see young people their students’ ages producing their own work and performing in a professional-type setting,” Averett said.
Friday features sessions such as “The Art of the Warmup” and an “ignite” lesson designed to foster new ideas. Mary-Catherine Chambliss, a TROY alum and Director of Education for iTheatrics, a New York-based musical theatre company, will be the primary guest teaching artist. Chambliss was on staff for the first Summer Spotlight held the summer before her freshman year.
“She helped us launch Summer Spotlight then and she’s helping us launch this new program all these years later,” Averett said. “She is a dynamic educator and leader, and she is an imaginative and resourceful person to have in our network. She is energized and loves what she does. She brings in a lot of traditional and non-traditional approaches to theatre education and what’s happening with theatre across the country.”
As part of a budding partnership with TROY, representatives from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival will host a brainstorming session on how ASF can continue to serve schools and teachers in Alabama. In return, TROY will assist ASF in a teacher professional development workshop on July 15 as part of its annual Southern Writers Festival.
“ASF is partnering with us on these professional development activities and will talk about the value of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as our state’s official theatre and what the implications are for arts educators and arts education programs in the state, particularly theatre programs,” Averett said. “ASF has been a generous partner in this effort. We’re really working together.”
Additionally, educators will learn about grant writing from Andy Meadows, Alabama State Department of Education Arts Curriculum Specialist, and hear from various TROY personnel, including Averett and Jenny Davis Meadows, lecturer. They’re also invited to attend a comprehensive Q&A session for the intensive groups on campus that week and to observe rehearsals.
“They’ll be able to observe best practices in action, not so much from a classroom standpoint, but what it’s like from the professional industry standpoint,” Averett said. “To hear that dialogue between these young students who are just starting out and people who are seasoned veterans and working the industry is really enlightening.”
Saturday’s sessions feature a lesson on sustainability and an opportunity to see the final Spotlight Showcase performance before participants depart in the early afternoon.
“We’ll talk about how to sustain yourself through the challenges of this career, how to sustain performing arts programs with funding, support and stakeholders and how to find, build and engage resources and support,” Averett said. “It’s about building something that will last. We’re trying to help them with that.”
Teachers will receive professional development credit hours in PowerSchool. Non-certified teachers and other participants will receive a Certificate of Participation, to include hours of credit.
The Teachers Intensive is scheduled for July 21-23. The deadline to register is July 18.