Let’s celebrate Robin Bedford from Ocoee Middle School, educator for 13 years and theatre teacher for 3 years!
What drew you to education and specifically the important role of theatre teacher?
Actually, I feel the field of education picked me. I love seeing people shine in their element and realize the unique things they can do. I have always had a heart to be an encourager while cheering others on for success.
I was involved in Choir and Theatre during junior high and high school. I spent all my afternoons in our school auditorium helping Mr. Baker paint sets, organize props and memorizing lines for shows. Theatre became the place I had friends that became like family. Theatre helped me discover I had leadership and organizational skills. I went to college for Stage Management and Lighting Design. Now as an adult, my hope is to share my passion, past experiences and education to help future generations find joy in the arts like I did at a young age.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
It is amazing when my students discover that the skills they use in Theatre are actually life skills. Practicing teamwork while creating a scene in class, problem-solving skills with budgets and set construction, building self-confidence through public speaking and even developing their creativity with design projects all support skills they will use in their future.
Since I teach multiple levels and courses of Theatre Electives, I get to see timid sixth graders experience their first acting moments and grow as performers and/or designers as they travel down their middle school path. Many of my students participate in the Jr. Thespian Festivals and get to experience live theatre productions. It is so rewarding when they notice things on stage that we have discussed in class.
Which projects or classroom assignments are you most excited about and why?
This school year I started a new Technical Theatre class. The feedback for this new opportunity has been so positive from the kids. It gives students the opportunity to see that trade skills are used in the The Arts. They are learning research and interpreting skills before creating hands-on projects for props, costuming and we are now starting basic flat construction. I proudly display their costume design plates in our classroom because their creativity and attention to detail blew me away during their first attempts with this project. I am so thrilled to offer a Theatre course that non-performers can enjoy.
What is a recent proud moment you had with/for your students?
In November, our Thespian troupe 88880 took a one act play to the District Festival, a first for the theatre program at Ocoee Middle. I reminded the students to do only what had been done in rehearsals, enjoy the process and the learning opportunity of doing a production and stay humble no matter the outcome during the awards ceremony. After eight weeks of rehearsals and a public performance at our school for practice, we presented our production before adjudicators. At the end of the three-day festival, our production won “Top Honors” and the students squealed in shock and delight when it was announced. It was a true honor to be a part of making OMS history and getting to see these dedicated students get such wonderful feedback and acknowledgements after all their hard work.
What ways can the community support theatre in our schools or your program specifically?
Our program loves the opportunity to share their talents with our community. It would be awesome to have our feeder elementary schools come see the shows at their future middle school. This not only helps create an additional audience base, but it also shows elementary students the fun and unique opportunities they will soon have in the years to come. What a great partnership this could become to continue building arts programs!
Do you have plans to celebrate Theatre in our Schools month? How so?
A fellow VPA teacher at my school and I have begun brainstorming a few ideas and hope to create an evening of performances in March which could highlight some of the classroom learnings and showcase the growing abilities of our students.
In April, all 160 of my theatre students will have the opportunity to attend a field trip to see a live theatre production. For some, this may be their first time in a theatre, or their first time getting to see a professional production. I’m hoping that through this experience they too will find an appreciation, sense of wonder and may even passion like I did when I was as teen, so they will become life-long supporters of live theatre.
Thank you OCPS Arts for sharing your theatre teachers with us!