Theatre Arts (Drama I /Speech)
Introduction to the Arts
Reprinted with permission from April 2007 GriffinNotes, FACULTY FOCUS
I've always considered myself lucky. Perhaps it's my Irish heritage, or perhaps it's just my faith. And it may seem strange, but after 39 years in the class room, I really don't think of myself as a teacher, at least not a teacher in the traditional sense. At no time did I make the decision that I wished to become a professional educator. So how did I end up here you may ask?
I grew up with my parents, a younger brother and sister and attended a Catholic grade school in south St. Louis city. After grade school, I attended St. Mary's High, as did my father, and then headed off to St. Louis University. All the time, I was performing and was fortunate enough to get my Actors Equity card at a young age. After college, a chance meeting with Brother William Kenneally, SM brought me back to my old high school. Brother Bill told me of a one year opening for a freshmen Speech teacher at St. Mary's and asked if I might be interested. I applied and got the job.
I looked back at my four years as a student at St. Mary's and discovered that they were some of the greatest years of my life. I formed life-long friendships, was very involved it Student Council and co-curriculars, and got a great education. I had the benefit of attending a Marianist high school taught by a dedicated group of teachers. When the opportunity came along to go back to my old school as a member of the faculty, I figured it would be a great way to "put back" into the school from which I had taken so much. After all, it was only for one year.
I stayed at St. Mary's for 19 years. In those years, I taught Speech, English, Religion and Television Production. I was part of the administrative team and did student scheduling. I was fortunate enough to become the school's first Director of Development and Alumni Relations, and worked on the school's first capital campaign. Working with the Marianist only deepened my respect for them and strengthened my commitment to sharing what little talents I may possess with the young men in my room. I've never really considered myself a great teacher, but rather as someone fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share and explore the beauty of God's creation with the young men in my room.
It was during those same years, that I also continued to work in theatre and met a young choreographer who would become not only my professional partner but my life partner, my wife Sandy. We have three great kids. Alexis, Patrick, (Vianney '06) and Sean (Vianney '08.)
In 1993, I had the opportunity to come to St. John Vianney High School. It was hard making the decision to leave St. Mary's but I was very excited about the possibilities I saw at Vianney. Again, it was the great opportunity of working with a talented and dedicated group of men and women who feel the same excitement of sharing and exploration with their students that brought me to Vianney.
When the opportunity presented itself to work with Griffin Theatre, I saw it as yet another lucky opportunity to merge two important aspects of my life, Vianney and Theatre. Sandy and I had worked together leading youth theatre productions for over twenty years and in 1990 founded a professional theater company dedicated to educational theatre and producing summer stock musicals. Griffin Theatre was yet another golden opportunity to share and explore.
One of the guys in my class asked me how long I was going to continue to teach. I jokingly replied, "I'll teach until I get it right." But the serious answer to his question is that I will continue to teach as long as God continues to give me the opportunity of sharing, exploring and growing with the young men that enter my room or cross the Griffin Theatre stage. How lucky can one guy be?