Amid push for STEM education, arts instructors stress value of theater

By Lauren Barack for

At Bayfield High School in Colorado, the after-school theater program is a collaborative affair. Teachers get involved, parents chip in for costumes, and students commit to working, after the final bell, on its two shows a year.

The program’s director, Sarah Ripley — who also teaches special education at Bayfield Middle School — has 41 students participating this year in the school’s production of “Matilda” — a huge leap from the original 12 signups she got previously, mostly by persuading them during lunch periods, she said.

And that increased enthusiasm is rewarded. Everyone who signs up gets a role in the school’s production — whether it’s as a chorus member or a set designer — and Ripley’s watched the transformation students have undergone over the past two years.

“They walk away with a newfound confidence, presentation skills, vocal skills, and they find relationships that last for life,” Ripley told Education Dive. “They walk with their head higher.”

Despite stressing STEM education, theater still a priority

Even in an era when science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs are being lauded and encouraged among students, theater programs are still championed by many districts and schools.

Read more here.

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