Westerville Educators Spend a Weekend in New York Studying Shakespeare

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Three Westerville English Language Arts teachers – Blair Gabalis, Cat Stathulis and Kirsten Allen – spent last weekend in New York at a Shakespeare workshop.  They traveled with a large group of Central Ohio teachers, MFA grad students, and undergrad students via OSU charter bus to New York City.  There, they had the opportunity to see four of Shakespeare's histories – Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V.  Before a weekend of viewing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music took place, they had a chance to attend a Q & A session with some of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s actors and directors, who gave them a better idea of what it takes to both rehearse and direct a play.  This weekend of continuous histories was three years in the making.  These elite actors have toured the world putting on these shows, so the teachers found it fascinating to get insight into how they had to adapt to their roles and schedules in different countries.

“The plays really allowed us to see how Shakespeare is performed and adapted to the stage, instead of just in a textbook, like us classroom teachers usually see,” said Gabalis.  “After the shows, we discussed how we can really bring in the concept of staging and movement into our classrooms; so much of Shakespeare is in the acting, and not necessarily just the words."

The trio said they are very grateful to be “part of a district that allows us to pursue professional development and expand our minds as teachers.”

The trip was made possible because Dr. Jill Williams, English-Language Arts & Social Studies Curriculum Specialist at Westerville City Schools, is also a part-time adjunct faculty member at The Ohio State University in the College of Education and Human Ecology, which has a partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company.  A colleague at OSU asked Dr. Williams to invite some Westerville teachers to the workshop and performance series in Brooklyn.