March 10, 2016
The Educational Theatre Association Board of Directors has sent instructions to its Nominating Committee as the committee prepares to begin the process of vetting candidates for the Fall 2016 board election. Members will choose two new directors and a vice president/president in an election that will conclude at the annual EdTA National Conference in September.
The board asked the committee to put forward a minimum of two candidates and no more than four for each of the three positions.
“As the EdTA Governing Board we encourage the nominating committee to find viable, experienced leaders as candidates who will represent the educational theatre field,” the charge to the committee reads. “The most important priority is finding volunteers who will bring strong skills, vision, commitment and leadership to the Board. Criteria might include multiple dimensions of diversity. Summary data of the sitting board, as it will stand in August 2017, has been provided for considering candidates.”
Any EdTA member can file to be considered for nomination by submitting a candidate vita package to the committee. Watch this space for an announcement of the availability of vitae forms, later this spring.
In a related development, President Frank Pruet unveiled plans for the EdTA Leadership Academy, which has been under development for about a year. The first sessions will be held during the 2016 International Thespian Festival and EdTA National Conference. EdTA members who want to learn how to be more effective at the troupe and school level, or who aspire to be part of the organization’s chapter or national leadership, will receive instruction in such topics as codes and policies, governance principles, planning, goal-setting, knowledge-based decision making, fundraising, program building, and volunteer recruitment. The leadership training will be offered as a Professional Development Intensive during the festival and conference. Stay tuned for more information.
Future conversations on this topic will be informed by a leadership history of the organization that is being compiled by board member Gai Jones and a group of volunteers. Jones has been collecting stories, impressions, and lessons learned from past board members and other leaders. The intention is to create an historical document that can be used in leadership training and orientation of board members.
In other action during a busy two-day face-to-face meeting in Cincinnati in late February, the board got a first-hand look at a JumpStart training session in directing musical theatre for middle school teachers, listened to a presentation from the International Thespian Officers on plans for Theatre in Our Schools Month, and asked its Governance Committee to review a package of proposals for possible revisions to the EdTA Code of Regulations.
JumpStart is a pilot program designed to nurture theatre at the middle school level, operated by EdTA in partnership with iTheatrics, that is being tested in three Cincinnati junior high schools during the 2015-16 school year. It happened that a “boot camp” training session for participating teachers was in session at a downtown theatre space just a short walk from the offices where the board was meeting, so board members dropped in to share box lunches and conversation with the teachers.
“Over lunch,” said Vice President Debbie Corbin after the visit, “the JumpStart teachers told us about their productions and their students with no thought as to the Saturday they were using to pursue this project. One school in particular told us about students who were guaranteed their third meal of the day by participating in after-school rehearsals. Clearly Jump-Start is making a difference in these children's lives in more ways than one.”
“These are not the theatre teachers at their schools,” Gai Jones said. “There is no theatre teacher at their school—they are the counselor, the art teacher, the librarian. They are dedicated educators who want the best for their students. I would love to be in the room where it happens with the students…”
The six members of the International Thespian Officers were also in Cincinnati during the board meeting, for a planning and work session. They briefed the board on plans to celebrate Theatre in Our Schools Month during March, a cooperative undertaking with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. The ITO has a lead role in EdTA’s work on the initiative, using an online toolkit, social media, and workshops and personal contact at chapter events to raise awareness of the value of educational theatre.
The ITO also reported on their fundraising work on behalf of the Send a Troupe to Festival program, which provides grants to schools that could not otherwise attend the Thespian Festival. At the time of the board meeting they had raised $22,657.59 at chapter festivals, with thirteen events to go.
The board charged its Governance Committee to review and recommend any needed revisions to the sections of the EdTA Code of Regulations that describe the duties of the board treasurer and secretary, prescribe procedures for signing contracts and checks, and describe a process for the removal of officers.