Updated: Apr 5
After nearly 30 years of teaching and 25 of that being my own school, I can look back and see what that has meant to myself and those I have had the pleasure of educating.
Theatre has always been "part of my blood". My grandmother owned her own school and my aunt worked as a professional dancer back in the day when theatres were still the common form of escapism, so she travelled all over the country. It was her meeting a local newspaper man and marrying him which brought her to Thanet. My mum who was 18 years younger than her would come and visit, and although my aunt passed away when I was 2, my mum loved this part of the country and eventually moved here when I was in my early 20's. Needless to say I followed. Less than six months later we opened Masque.
I had been teaching when I still lived in the Midlands and it seemed only natural to start something here. It has been a long, sometimes hard but rewarding road and the journey continues. So what does teaching do for me?
Apart from the obvious that it allows me a living, It has been part of my personal growth. I was actually quite shy as a child and I am, by nature, quite reserved. Standing in front of a class or speaking to parents has made me more self assured and comfortable around people. It has given me a quiet confidence. I don't get that nervous feeling that I once had in the company of new people or situations. I think that is why I always feel a kinship with any shy child who joins the school and I love seeing their confidence blossom as they find their self expression through dance, acting or singing. I love that the performing arts can do that for someone. It is such a wonderful form of communication that allows you to find your inner voice and not be afraid to say "Look at me. I'm here". That has worked both ways for me and my pupils.
This also leads my on to my love of the creative. I find anything that is visual fascinates me. I love tv shows about cookery, interior design, fashion design or silly modelling shows that can produce beautiful images. I have written short children's stories and poetry. The creative possibilities are endless. There are days when I wonder if I have it in me or wonder if it has disappeared, but then something organically will happen or inspire me and I surprise myself at the results. Again I am inspired by the creativity of my pupils. The way they may relate to a piece of music, interpret a character or emotionally connect to a song that is personal and unique to them. This can happen with any aged child and it wonderful to witness.
There are other wonderful "by products" of having taught and run my own school for so long. It's not just about learning to sing, dance and act. It is all the life skills that come along with it. It's learning discipline and tenacity. It's the ability to present oneself for scrutiny and not allow their judgements to pull you down, or to also accept praise with grace and humility. It's the joy of friendship and comradery that is life lasting. It's a feeling of family and belonging with like minded people. I am proud of those who have gone on to make a career in performance, but I am equally proud of those who have gained all of the skills above to carry them into their adult life, in whatever way they choose.
That is why I do this and that is why I will always try and expand what I do to offer more people the opportunity to find their joy or passion, even if it is for just a little while.
Kerree - Principal.