Being an Enrichment Teacher

“Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a freelance Creative Drama Specialist/Enrichment Teacher!”  As a Theater Major at Syracuse University in the ‘80’s, I had an opportunity to teach young children in a Saturday morning creative drama class at the local community center.  I discovered that while I enjoyed performing, I enjoyed facilitating other’s creativity even more. I have since earned my Masters degree in Education and built a unique and busy career teaching enrichment programs to people ages 3-103 in various settings.  I didn’t know such a career was possible as a student at Syracuse.  For those of you interested, here are some pros and cons:

Let’s start with some of the cons:

So Many Locations:  Some days I teach up to 4 classes in 4 different locations!  Tough on the car and the brain!  I still use a paper calendar/organizer to keep track of it all!

  • Finances:  I have to make sure everyone pays me!  Some pay automatically, others get billed.  Taxes are another story…I let my accountant handle that!
  • There’s One In Every Class:  There’s always at least one child (or adult) who requires a lot of attention…negative or positive!  Sometimes the student has a special need that I have not been told about.  Find out as much as you can about your students even if you only see them once a week for an hour.
  • Uncertainty:  Each semester I wonder if my classes will run.  Fortunately, even through a difficult economy, my classes continue to run consistently.  Despite what we might think, people are still willing to support arts-in-education programs.

Here are some of the pros to being an Enrichment Teacher:

  • Flexibility:  As the mother of 2 teenage boys, I have a schedule that generally follows their school calendar.
  • Variety:  Every age group is exciting and I learn from everyone.  While I may play some of the same games or tell the same stories in each setting, every group brings something different to the experience and teaches ME something new!  I am never stuck in one classroom all day.  I work independently and yet I still have “colleagues.”
  • Material:  Finding new games or monologues and scenes has enabled me to meet (even if only virtually) some wonderful people from around the world (including David Farmer).  Two summers ago I was asked to speak on a panel at a theater convention in NYC about inter-generational theater…all because of a connection I made with ArtAge Publications while I was looking for material for my senior citizens.
  • Visibility:  I started the Middle and High School Drama Clubs in my district.  This has given me a chance to get to know the culture at the school.  Teachers and students know me.  The Middle School principal has even joined us on our annual trip to see a Broadway show.  Added perk:  My kid’s friends think I’m cool even if my kids don’t think so!

Some of my students may never get to Broadway (or West End) or Hollywood.  However, after learning improvisational theater games, diction, performance skills, teamwork, etc. they will find it easier to get up in front of classmates, colleagues or Congressmen.  They will speak more clearly, move more comfortably, collaborate more effectively, create more freely and enjoy themselves more fully throughout their lives.  My role as an Enrichment Teacher has enabled me to help many people “stretch their imagination muscles.”  I love it!

For more information and testimonials about Ellen Flaks’ programs, please visit her website at www.you-are-the-star.com or contact her at ellenflaks@verizon.net

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