When I was in 5th grade, I was cast in my first ever role!! It was Sam Swift in the capitalism satire Christmas Show, "Santa and the Snowmobile." Now granted I didn't audition, I was required to participate for the grade, but I was assigned the role of Sam. Others were reindeer, one had the joy of playing Santa, and a lot of other "decorative ornaments" were designed and created to include all students. Sam Swift attempted to persuade Santa that he no longer needed his reindeer and sleigh - he could make up a lot of time, reach many more houses, with his state of the art snowmobile. Things go awry, Sam is exposed, and the reindeer save the day.
That was the moment I knew - "whatever this was" was something I wanted to be a part of for awhile. Maybe I enjoyed the attention, the spotlight, or the fun of getting to be someone I wasn't, and from there a joy of theater evolved.
I never thought I was going to be a teacher. I didn't want to be a teacher - all through Middle School and High School, I knew I was going to be the next big star. I was going to be on a soap opera-that would be my big break, then I would move into TV roles, and then finally I would be the Film Star I knew I was destined to be. Well, ten years later, that didn't work out. I got my first taste of teaching my senior year of High School. I became the Student Service Learner for my High School Drama Teacher, an individual, who to this day, I still claim to be one of the best teachers I have ever had. I was so excited to work with him, but then was awarded a fellowship that allowed him the opportunity to sail around the world during the semester I was suppose to be his aid. I was bummed, but with his absence gave me a sense of duty and pride. As part of my grade, I directed my first show - "Readin' Writin' 'Rithmetic," a classroom comedy. I directed many of the Intro to Theater students. At that time, there was no "vision," no "concept" - just me praying and hoping everything would go off without a hitch. And it did, and the freshmen, my "students" receieved a standing ovation. I stood in the wings and watched, and as a senior - I was proud. I was proud of what the freshmen accomplished. The look of success and pride in their eyes meant everything to me. And the standing ovation resonated with me. It was that day I knew I would be a drama teacher at some point in my life.
And ten years later - here I am.
It was that Drama Teacher who exposed me to New York and Broadway for the first time. The first show I ever saw was "Les' Miserables" - it was on our yearly School New York Trip. I could go on and on about the show itself, but suffice it to say, it was a magical experience. From then on, I learned about as many plays and musicals I could; I learned about Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bob Fossee, Gower Champion, The Gerswhins, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and many more. Every year for Christmas, I would always ask for tickets to one Broadway Show that season. The year following that New York trip, I asked for tickets to see RENT. And without going into too much detail, RENT was a show that really resonated; I connected with the show. It supported and encouraged diversity, and it always lives by the motto- "No day, but today."
I joined Urbana High School in the Fall of 2007 and have been a part of the "F-Wing" since the beginning of my tenure, serving as Assistant and Co-Director. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Theater and English Education from University of Maryland in 2006 and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2015 from Hood College.
I believe that theater should be entertaining and educational. Through performance and the study of theater, students learn more about themselves. They learn communication skills, team work skills, individual responsibility, and many more. I believe students learn best and can be challenged to take risks in an environment that cultivates all those skills. This is why the F-wing has been labeled "family." Everyone is welcome in our family. They come together as a family in spite of various backgrounds. Within any cast, actors include popular kids, the bullied kids, the poor kids, the rich kids, the seniors, and the freshmen. And yet when the lights go on and the performance begins - none of that matters. It dissipates. The only thing that matters is the show - the performance, the success as a group. There are hugs and tears on closing night - and I cherish each and every moment. Our Rose Ceremony for Seniors is always an emotional moment - where we say goodbye to those seniors who have made an endelible mark on the department. The Juniors are impacted because they realize they must rise to the challenge; the sophomores welcome the opportunity; the freshmen simply take it all in. I always think when we say goodbye to seniors, "how am I ever going to replace this kids?" And yet, somehow, while they are not replaced, many kids step up.
My three main loves are Theater, Film, and Disney - three things that go hand in hand. I am obsessed with Film and Cinema. I was a Film Minor in college. I love analyzing the heck out of movies. At times, art imitates life, and I appreciate how film can speak to the soul and the human condition. I'm always fascinated with how plays and musicals are represented in film, and vice versa. I throw an Oscar party every year. I analyze and track which movie is going to win the Oscar for Best Picture all year long. When the Oscars end one year, I beginning thinking about next year. Same thing with Theater and the Tony Awards. And of course, as all my students know - I love Disney, Everything about Disney.
So excited for what is in store for the Drama Department of the F-Wing.
Mr. Ward's Top 5 Musicals Mr. Ward's Top 5 Plays Mr. Ward's Top 5 Films
1. Finding Neverland 1. The Diary of Anne Frank 1. Boyhood
2. Dear Evan Hansen 2. Noises Off 2. Dead Poet's Society
3. Memphis 3. Doubt 3. Pleasantville
4. Ragtime 4. Equus 4. Schindler's List
5. Evita 5. Our Town 5. The Truman Show
Mr. Ward's Top 5 Disney Movies
1. Toy Story 3
2. Beauty and the Beast
3. The Little Mermaid
4. The Lion King
5. Meet the Robinsons