Thank you for trusting me enough to come along on this journey. It had never been done before... and, maybe, won't be done again. There was no path cut, no rules designed, and, certainly, no assurance of an acceptable outcome. If there had been these assurances, it would mean that we were attempting to only copy the status quo established by someone else. This project was intended to be as unique as the group assembled to try it. Therefore, it was a tremendous act of faith and trust for you to come along with me. I want you to know that I held that trust seriously each day. My worries were very rarely about ticket sales or actors learning lines. My worries were that I would lead us astray and lose the benefits of the experience. My worries were that I would not bear this responsibility well... that I would fail my students and their families or my faculty and my AAA family. My worries were that in this failing that the world would not see my students as artists-- that there would be "I told you so's" which would harm our overall push at arts integration.
To understand the depth of my appreciation for your help and support, I have to tell you a little about myself: I am an introvert. No, really. I find the spotlight uncomfortable, and I have practiced for 15 years to be able to have a social presence that is necessary for teaching. I love ideas and knowledge and problem-solving. But, I used to stand outside my first classroom on hall duty, talking myself into walking into class to start. I learned that if I let myself love my students then I could muster the energy to teach all day. It's been the same all over again on this journey. There have been many, many times when I've doubted that I had the energy to do what needed to be done. It's been a challenge for me as well as the students. They were challenged in their acting skills and reading skills and ability to participate amid the conflicts and demands of their lives. I have been challenged in organizing, communicating, problem-solving, and negotiating. There have been times when I felt the energy drain from me-- and each time-- someone in our midst had a kind word, a smile, or stepped in to help. These small--and big--acts and sacrifices made by my students' families and AAA faculty were gifts of energy and inspiration. Your show of confidence was what allowed me to regroup and push forward.
I appreciate every smile, every kind word, every gentle look and hug. I appreciate every gift of time and energy to fill a gap--- from feeding the cast and crew to cleaning dressing rooms to packing quarter staffs, to waiting patiently for your student, to bringing dinner and/or medication, to selling tickets, to promoting the show, to taking care of the LHS tech crew, to sending clothes, to fixing blocks, to building suits of armor, to borrowing suits of armor, to talking to me about your concerns, to overlooking my mistakes, to filling seats and ushering, to reminding me of things I had forgotten while I focused on problem-solving, to altering costumes, to making body bags, to chauffeuring actors, to rearranging schedules, to stretching yourselves thin to make rehearsals, to waiting...waiting...waiting..., to missing bedtimes, and every thing in between that I haven't mentioned here but hold in my heart as a gift.
Tonight at the end of the last show, I finally breathed, knowing that everyone finished an amazing run. I saw huge acts of bravery by such tender hearts. I saw talent. I saw hard work. I saw the character required to succeed despite "the slings and arrows" of this world. There are no words for the art created by our students... only awe and honor. May we remember each moment in the theatre together as something precious that cannot be recreated. May we remember this as a time that we pushed passed the limits that most imagine.
It is my deepest hope that our students gain a confidence of their own abilities that passes all understanding... that they won't settle for less... that they will "set their worth at a higher rate."
Thank you for your trust and your support.
Now, let us seek our recovery from the challenges that we faced and continue.