Approaching a well lit stage and the smell of fresh paint, I find Mrs. Aldridge with a paint brush in hand. As Aldridge continues to paint the floor of the stage, I sit down with her and discover the history of her profession, teaching methods, and her favorite memories while teaching at Centennial High School.
Q: “Why did you choose to pursue drama?”
“My original goal was to be a star on Broadway” replies Aldridge, looking up as if she glanced into her past as a performer. She explains that as she went on pursuing theater, she realized she wouldn’t be able to have what she wanted: a family. “I began taking directing and educational classes.” as she explains her decision to become an educator instead of a performer. As the explanation continues, she adds, “I didn’t get as much satisfaction out of preforming as I did when teaching and directing.”
Q: “You’ve said that special needs students tend to excel in your class more so than in their core classes, why is that?”
“In drama,” she pauses, “my classes are encouraged to use their creativity, and that sparks something in special needs students.” In core classes, such as math, science, and history, teachers do not expect creativity to be released from students. I am enrolled in drama this semester and there are four special needs students in our class, watching the freedom and creativity they are allowed to exude is incredible and is truly an outlet for them.
Q: “Does your dyslexia interfere with teaching English?”
“Believe it or not, reading music helps with reading words.” Aldridge explains how reading notes in music and following the rhythm up and down is like reading, making the notes flow the same way you would with a sentence while reading. “Sometimes when I am reading something without practicing, I have to make up some parts because the words mix up on me.” It is plain to see that singing is 1st nature to Aldridge in any case.
Q: “If you could pick a favorite memory from teaching or directing, what would it be?”
Aldridge stops the fluid strokes of her paintbrush, just stands there, and reflects on a student from many years ago. After a few minutes of silence pass, she looks right at me, “He had a stutter, a lisp.. and was scared of his own shadow.” The student she was speaking of was preparing for his final in Mrs. Aldridge’s drama class. His final was a two minute monologue. With a grin on her face, she continues, “It was so wonderful because when he preformed, the stutter and lisp were gone. The entire two minutes was breathtaking. I’ve never heard an audience so quiet, nor seen one so intrigued.”
Being involved in musicals is a learning experience and really helps you grow as a person. You bond with people you never thought you would come close to interacting with. Aldridge continuously shines her light through her students and cast members fueled by her teaching and directing at Centennial High School.