Preparing students for success

Teacher is involved with a project advocating for students’ learning


photo courtesy of Brooke Phillips

Theater director Brooke Phillips presents the Creative Arts Network to theater teachers at the International Thespian Festival at Indiana University- Bloomington. “I’m excited to be a part of the project,” Phillips said. “This spring we’ll be recruiting more teachers to join our individual Professional Learning Communities, so it made me really excited and proud to share what we are doing with this project, and then recruit other teachers to be in my group this spring.”

Paige Hightower, Staff Reporter

Theater director Brooke Phillips participates in a project promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom, as well as social and emotional learning.

In March of 2022, the Educational Theater Association put out information about needing teachers to lead others in what they called Professional Learning Communities. This information caught the attention of Phillips and she applied to be a part of it.  After showing some lesson plans, and demonstrating her style of teaching, she went through an interview process with the national team and was selected shortly after.

Phillips and a few other public school teachers involved with the Creative Arts Network across the country have been including these topics in this year’s lesson plans.

“I’m already starting to incorporate some things that I’ve learned,” Phillips said. “I have used tools to help students in the classroom think about their emotions a little bit better, so I’m starting to work on that right away. My goal is, because of this project, it’s actually theater teachers, dance teachers, visual art teachers, and music teachers, and all of us are going to lead other teachers so it’s going to be an exponential amount of teachers across the country who are going to work hard to promote safe spaces for their students and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across the country, that could really impact hundreds of thousands of students and that’s my goal, I just want great things to happen for students.”

That is the whole goal of this project, making a difference in the lives of students by making the classroom a safe place for them. Educational Director of the Educational Theater Association and Partner Director, Cory Wilkerson hopes that this project does just that.

To me, the most exciting thing about this project is the potential that it has to make a real difference in the lives of so many,” Wilkerson said. “ Theater teachers are so skilled at creating supportive communities for their students, and they touch so many lives.  By giving 165 theater teachers the skills they need to do this work even better, we have the potential to make change for the better in community after community. There is a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama which goes like this:  ‘Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into the water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.’  I truly believe that this project is that pebble.”

The faculty here have also recognized this importance, and have supported Phillips and her decision to help students.

Only 17 educators were chosen from hundreds of applicants,” principal Greg Tiemann said. “We are very proud of Mrs. Phillips and this reflects her hard work and pride in her theater program.”

Phillips will continue to educate other teachers on adding more diversity, equity, and inclusion into their lesson plans, hoping to help hundreds of thousands of students in public schools across the country.