My fascination for the use of story and drama to contextualized learning began my first year of teaching in New Orleans, 1970. Faced with aloof, detached eighth graders, I beguiled them into a “drama world” where we looked at issues and experienced events through the eyes of heroes, heroines, common folk and villains of the past. We re-lived their lives and confronted their problems. When the bell rang no one wanted to leave.
The level of engagement of even the most reluctant learner was remarkable. But even more intriguing, was the depth of their understanding as well as the amount of detailed historical information they remembered…even years later. I was hooked! I wanted to learn more about the field of educational drama and the connection between emotional contexts and memory. That first teaching experience set my course and shaped the burning questions that guide my research, and my practice. And I’m still learning.
I am an instructional arts consultant and educational drama methods specialist providing educators with practical and theoretical foundations for the use of contextual strategies. I work hand-in-hand with teachers and their students creating optimal learning environments, integrating arts and dramatic strategies across the curriculum. Students use their imagination, think critically, apply literacy skills, collaborate, and solve problems as they perform essential tasks within the context. Teachers learn about the neurological and biological changes in the teen brain as a foundation for designing relevant, motivating lessons.
I received my Ed. D. from the University of California Los Angeles, and my B.S. from Louisiana State University. My pre and postgraduate studies were conducted at the University of Central England, Oxford University, London Regents College, and the London Shakespearean Studio. I teach university master classes throughout the United States and Canada, lead workshops and present at conferences worldwide. Over the years, I have worked with teachers and students in over a hundred schools. My organizational consulting includes Los Angeles Educational Partnership, The Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project, Canter and Associates, Sylvan Learning Systems, Teach For America, The Advanced School Management Program at UCLA, and The Galef Institute. I am currently director of curriculum and professional development for Outlaws and Justice, an eighth-grade interdisciplinary curriculum of history/social studies, language arts and drama and an adjunct professor at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.