One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We plan to shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.
Our latest Spotlight Member is Barb Lachman, troupe director of Troupe 640 at Shorewood High School in Shoreline, WA. After serving for over 20 years as a troupe director at three different schools, Barb is planning to retire from teaching theatre this year. She plans to spend more time teaching English, serving as Department Head, and taking on some community theatre projects. I asked Barb to answer a few questions for us so we could learn a little more about her.
Photo via The View From Right Here.
Ginny: What is your greatest challenge as a theatre teacher?
Barb: The greatest challenge of the last ten years has been maintaining a curricular drama program. Students still want to participate in theater, but state graduation requirements, changing college requirements, and the pressure to take AP classes make it difficult for them to take drama during the school day. The extra-curricular program is growing, so lately, I have been working more hours with more students for the same pay.
Ginny: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Barb: When I began college my mantra was ABT--anything but teaching! As I learned more about myself, I realized that everything I liked to do most--read, write, act, direct, talk to young people--I could do as a teacher. I have never regretted my decision. I learn new things from my students every day, and those things make me a better teacher and person every year.
Ginny: What theater project are you most proud of?
Barb: In 2012, as part of a yearlong focus on attacking bullying, I directed a production of The Laramie Project with a full community cast. Students played all of the parts of the writers and younger characters, but teachers, parents, alums and other community members played the rest of the cast. At first students were disappointed that adults were going to take "their" parts, but the lasting effects of that production were powerful for everyone. Drama students became mentors and leaders for adults. Adults gained appreciation for the work of theater. And everyone faced a difficult topic with honesty and respect for one another.
Ginny: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Barb: I love to travel, but I would stay in the Pacific Northwest. I love living in cool, rainy, accepting, book-reading, art-loving Seattle.
Ginny: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Barb: Although I can't take credit for how fabulous they are, I am most proud of my two daughters. They lived with a mom who spent a lot of time at work, and my husband picked up the slack during production time. I have an amazing family with two independent daughters who are fun, smart, well-rounded, and hard-working.
Ginny: What are you most looking forward to after retiring?
Barb: At this point I'm not really retiring, but I am stepping back from being the drama director at my school. I'm looking forward to seeing what interesting opportunities might walk into the space from 2:30-6:30…or 10:30 pm...
One of the most wonderful qualities I have found in a teacher is when they have realized that they can not only teach their students, but learn from them as well. With such an open point of view, we’re sure Barb will continue to accomplish amazing things as she embarks on this new chapter of her career. If you enjoyed Barb’s interview, add her as a contact in the Community!
Do you know someone who deserves a moment in the Spotlight? Tell me their name and why at email@example.com.