Suzanne McDowell, Performing Arts Specialist, Drama Teacher
It’s course selection time at Westmount! A time of great anticipation coupled with anxiety for many students and their parents. Oftentimes parents have other courses in mind for their students. I hear them saying, “ I can’t take drama because my parents want me to take (insert anything else here).” The concern being; taking Drama will not contribute to the post secondary life path they’ve envisioned for their student.
I started post secondary school in a Psychology/Sociology program with full parental support. When I decided I wanted to go to theater school, that support ended and I was responsible for every aspect of my University education. When I graduated, my parents said they didn’t recognize me. I was more thoughtful, responsible, more patient, a better communicator, more empathetic, yet somehow stronger and more confident. In short, my post secondary performing arts education gave me the time, space and energy to explore the various complexities of being human. I learned to breathe. I learned to like myself and to live authentically.
I have taken THAT training coupled with the Alberta Education curriculum to develop the Drama program at Westmount. As an arts educator, it is not my mission to graduate actors but to graduate people who are happy and excited about life and who are creative problem-solvers able to think critically, see, feel, and confidently and articulately relate their experiences to others.
My parents continuously told me that my training was the best thing I could have done. They jokingly said they always loved me, but now they really LIKED me!
When parents are asked what they fundamentally hope for their children’s future; the answer is almost universally ‘to be happy’. So, if Drama as an option for your student has been something you’ve been avoiding because your student is already full of Drama, please reconsider. Think of it as a Social Strategies class, which many of our gifted population are not exposed to, but would greatly benefit from. If you have questions or wish to know more about the program philosophy and what it offers, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or stay tuned for the next edition of The Creative Corner.
Suzanne McDowell has been the Performing Arts Specialist teaching Drama at WCS since 2007. She obtained a Theatre and Speech Diploma from Mount Royal College, prior to earning her B.F.A. in Acting with Distinction, from the University of Alberta. Prior to launching her teaching career, she worked professionally in theatre, film, television, voice over and radio, and although teaching is her full time gig, she still works in film and television when time allows.