Earlier this year, we launched a brand new Community program called Mentor Match. This unique online networking and career development tool is an EdTA members-only benefit that helps you find, connect, and share experiences with others. Our Mentor Match spotlight will feature some of the incredible mentors who are available to help you accomplish your professional goals.
Our current featured mentor is Sarah Serbus, a theatre teacher and high school troupe director at Union High School in Union, Missouri, home to Thespian Troupe 5406. Sarah is also a Thespian Alum, so she has plenty of knowledge to share about troupe management.
How long did you teach/have you been teaching? What subjects/classes?
I've been teaching for 14 years. I've taught Intro to Theatre, Acting & Improv, Tech Theatre I-III, Dual Credit Theatre Appreciation, Public Speaking, Debate, and Film Studies
What are your areas of expertise?
My area of expertise is probably technical theatre, specifically scenic design and construction.
Why did you sign up to be a mentor?
Theatre education is a career where we are often departments of one within our schools/districts. We need to help each other! Just as I feel strongly about sharing my passion for theatre with my students, I feel just as strongly about doing what I can to help fellow theatre teachers.
Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, logical, energetic.
Do you have any special training or certification?
I have a master’s degree in Directing from Roosevelt University.
Did you ever have a mentor or role model? What did you learn from them?
I've had several (both officially and unofficially) over the years and I still do. I'm continually learning from everyone!
Why do you believe theatre is important?
It provides an opportunity to learn and exercise all kinds of skills while having fun at the same time. Over the course of a year (or sometimes even a production), I teach my theatre students math, history, science, art, and English as well as the super important "soft skills" like teamwork, compassion, communication and so many others.
I've also had several students tell me that theatre is the reason why they still come to school- it gives them a place to belong.
What is your greatest challenge (or what was your greatest challenge in the classroom)?
When I began teaching it took a while for me to realize that it is okay to make mistakes and to not have all the answers... students can see that you are human :)
What does a typical day look like for you?
At school by 7:15am; theatre kiddos hanging out in my classroom by 7:30; classes from 8am-3pm (typically at least 4 preps); rehearsal from 3-5:30pm; tech work from 5:30-8pm; home around 8:30pm for dinner and sleep!
Tell us about the best day of your career.
Anytime I can see that I have made a difference, it is a good day.
Do you have any tips for theatre educators who are just beginning their careers?
Take things one step at a time. You will not conquer everything in a year. Get input from your students about their likes, their goals, etc. And ask questions! Ask a thousand questions!
What is your favorite musical (or play)? What makes it so special?
[title of show]. I had the opportunity to play the role of Susan several years ago and I've never related to a character so strongly. We had a tight-knit cast and tiny production team and it was magical.
What inspired you to pursue a career in theatre?
I had wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember. Once I got involved with theatre, it was the perfect fit and the only logical choice for me. I love that I get to work in all aspects of theatre and share that with my students!
Tell us about the moment that made you decide to get involved in theatre.
Honestly, a friend convinced me to try it in high school and I've been hooked ever since!
What was the most difficult element of a production you’ve ever had to manage?
Multiple small children in a show.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Being chosen as Teacher of the Year by Missouri Thespians in 2018. It was most rewarding because it started with a nomination from my students.
If you need help growing your troupe activity or want to talk technical theatre with a fellow theatre teacher, Sarah would be the perfect choice. To request Sarah as your mentor:
- Enroll as a mentee.
- Visit Sarah’s
- Click on the blue “Send me a Mentor Request button.”
Learn more about Mentor Match here. Feel free to contact me with any questions about this opportunity: firstname.lastname@example.org.