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Pleated Fabric

Teaching Philosophy

Establishing a Collaborative Community

I have always had a heart for spreading the art of theatre through teaching.  As a costume designer and technician who has worked in various professional and academic settings throughout my career, I have always felt at home in the academic environment.  Nothing fills my cup more than witnessing a new concept or approach finally click for a student, and seeing that excitement of new knowledge grow within them.  I believe that I thrive as an educator and mentor, and it has been a joy and honor to watch my students grow in their passion and understanding of costuming throughout the courses I have taught.

I have served as a leader and educator in various settings throughout my life, but one of the most impactful experiences I have had has to be when I volunteered then interned at Social Bridges in Maitland, FL for 5 years.  This is a social cognitive behavioral therapy group that brings together children, teens, and even young adults with varying non-neurotypical backgrounds (ADHD, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.) together through various group activities (including improv and theatre performance) to hone social skills, emotional regulation, and relationship building.  This not only gave me experience and perspective working with individuals with special needs and/or accommodations, but also opened my eyes to the importance of leading with empathy and understanding.

Furthermore, I have filled a number of roles for various theatrical and academic settings.  Everything from acting, to costuming, to scenic painting has given me a true appreciation and value for the collaboration that goes into creating a world onstage.  This, along with my years working with Social Bridges, have informed my teaching philosophy, which focuses on appreciating and fostering each student's learning style, communication style, and passion for the subject at hand.  Additionally, I intend to always lead with empathy as well as drive to assist each student in discovering new strengths and passions within themselves as theatre artists.  I, myself, was solely an actor for 10 years before I found my love for costuming during my Junior year at Furman University - all it took was one professor recognizing and fostering my potential to unlock what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I aim to be that educator and mentor who can foster that growth for theatre students, while constantly being conscious of each student's individual wants and needs. 

Because of my widespread educational background in theatre that has covered many technical and performance departments, my approach to teaching always starts at a baseline in the importance of collaboration, as I believe it is the basis for what distinguishes theatre as an art form.  Furthermore, collaboration is an important trait for all students to learn regardless of their academic path or major.  Another foundational subject I incorporate into my courses is critical analysis and exploration.  This is crucial to broader education, but is also imperative for dissecting a play to formulate a design concept or mark a script for technical necessities.  I am adamant about open discussions in the classroom to foster an ability to express one's own thoughts as well as practice listening and comprehension skills when it comes to a collaborative conversation.  This all manifests in the classroom by creating a safe space for creativity as well as vulnerability.

At the start of the course, I begin at the baseline.  Every course section has its own set of unique students, usually with a wide range of ability in terms of sewing or design.  This is why I always start with the basics to ensure we are all moving forward on the same page, fostered by lectures, discussions, tutorials, and open conversations.  For a technical theatre course, this can look like the history of sewing and fabric.  For a design course, on the other hand, this can look like the basics of figure drawing, color theory, and script analysis. 

After building this foundation in a community, I then transition into more specific subjects/skills, all the while taking into account how the students are doing as individuals as well as how the classroom is doing as a whole.  For the Stagecraft: Costumes course that I teach, I follow the baseline lectures with tutorials and more specific information on hand sewing and machine sewing, as well as fabric properties and finishing techniques.  Once I have honed in on specific skills and concepts, I then pull the approach back to the "big picture" of theatrical costuming, going over larger concepts like fashion history and sustainability in the clothing industry.  I have found that utilizing this "Basics -> Specifics -> Big Picture" approach is effective in providing a thorough yet unintimidating understanding of the importance of costumes as well as the process of production behind costuming for the theatre while also providing an inviting environment for students with a wide range of experiences and abilities.

Ultimately, I want my students to thrive - not only in areas of costume or theatre, but in their academic endeavors as a whole.  I aim to provide them with an appreciation for collaboration and effective communication as well as an understanding of the value and processes of costuming in the world of theatre.  I want my students to translate collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills fostered in my classes into all aspects of their studies.  When this is achieved, it is my hope that my students will have honed their path to becoming well-rounded theatre artists as well as well-rounded individuals.

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