Community Spotlight: Charlene Thomas

By Ginny Butsch posted 07-22-2014 09:40

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 Charlene Thomas, troupe director of Troupe 7797 at Covenant Day School in Matthews, NC. She has a wide range of experience in music and theatre, as well as with both middle and high school students (Covenant Day School is K-12, so she teaches both groups). I asked Charlene to answer a few questions for us so we could learn a little more about her.

Photo via
The Diana Ross Project

Ginny: In one sentence (or one word), describe your career.

Charlene: Unique and complicated. I am not what you would consider your typical theatre teacher. I was actually a music major. I got involved in theatre by auditioning and performing for local musicals, off-broadway gigs, etc. Somehow I got hooked. The rest is history.

Ginny: What is the most important advice you can offer to new teachers just starting out?

Charlene: Pace yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes. Do not try to change the world in a day. Find ways to keep teaching fun and exciting for you. Never stop desiring to learn more. As educators, we should strive to set the example of being lifelong learners.

Ginny: What is the resource you most recommend to others in your profession (book, website, tool, app, etc)? 

Charlene: Acting the Truth: The Acting Principles of Constantin Stanislavski by Albert Pia. Great tool. You can glean from it what you need and apply it to what the students are working on or you can follow the syllabus.

Ginny: What inspired you to become a teacher?

Charlene: From the time I graduated from college, I had no intention of being a starving artist. When the opportunities to become the next Quincy Jones or Spike Lee became few and far between, I looked for part-time work; something where I could make a difference. The next thing I know I was standing in front of a classroom full of busy 2nd graders; one of whom called himself, "Bond. James Bond." From that point on, I was hooked on teaching. I have been teaching ever since.

Ginny: Tell us about the moment that made you decide to get involved in theatre.

Charlene: The day I saw Diana Ross in "Lady Sings the Blues." Am I dating myself? 

Ginny: Name something on your bucket list.

Charlene: I still have dreams of making it to Broadway!! Getting a masters in theatre or directing would be nice too.

Ginny: If you could have a different career, not related to theatre, what would you choose?

Charlene: My husband thinks I missed my calling as a computer geek but I would probably be a writer or recording artist. 

Ginny: How do you spend your summer vacations?

Charlene: Spending as much time with my family as possible and traveling.

Charlene obviously sets a great example for her students by continuing to look for ways to further her own education and expand her horizons. We’re excited that Charlene will be joining us in Cincinnati for our National Conference and look forward to the advice and experience she can share. If you enjoyed Charlene’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