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Why Springer Academy? Three Teachers Tell All.

Updated: May 4, 2022

As summer approaches, things are kicking into high gear over at Springer Opera House. Every summer hundreds of children sign up to be a part of the Springer Theatre Academy. The Academy was founded by the late Ron Anderson whose philosophy of teaching "life skills through stage skills" still directs the Academy's entire operation.

Springer Theatre Academy prides itself on providing a comprehensive theatre education to local youth. Children ages 5-18 are eligible to attend, and every single child is given the opportunity to explore theatre in new and exciting ways. Sessions end with live performances starring every student, and incorporate stage skills like acting, singing, speaking, choreography, and improvisation.

Founded in 1996, the Academy has been the premier source of theatre education in the Chattahoochee Valley for more than 25 years. Former students are now sending their children through the program, and more than a few alumni have returned as teachers. Many even travel from across the nation to come and teach every summer.

What makes Springer Theatre Academy so special? Three of this summer's staff share why they hail Springer Academy's approach to theatre education as a one-of-a-kind and unparalleled program for children of all ages.


You're coming back to Columbus from Brooklyn to teach at the Academy this summer. What brings you back? What made you say yes?

I am! I'm so excited to have been offered a position as a Teaching Artist. As the daughter of an educator, I've seen first hand the impact teachers have in students lives. I've been working professionally as an actress for 20 years now, and was first given the opportunity to teach for the back in 2015, and it changed my life. I began to envision a role beyond that on a stage, passing the knowledge so kindly bestowed unto me from working professionals and mentors throughout my life to the next generation of young artists. I found The Springer 4 years ago and after my recent return for The Wizard of Oz, where I had the privilege to meet and work with many of the Academy kids, I took a chance and applied for the summer, feeling in my heart a draw to the program and the wonderful people I've met.

In your opinion, what's the most powerful thing about theatre education?

In my humble opinion, the most powerful thing about theatre education is the ability, range, and understanding of humankind it gifts you. As an actor, it's quite literally your job to understand emotions, actions, and the ways they relate to and effect not only yourself, but your fellow scene partner or cast mates onstage. A theater can be one of the very first places a child witnesses and learns empathy, in a safe, encouraging, understanding environment. They then go out into the world and regardless of whether or not they maintain the craft, they'll head into each space they encounter with a better ability to work alongside and understand their fellow man.

Do you have a favorite memory of your experience with the Academy or the Springer that you can share?

My favorite memory of my experience with The Springer was most recently doing The Wizard of Oz. Due to the pandemic, we were safely masked throughout our entire rehearsal process, removing them only during tech week once on the stage itself. Our first unmasked rehearsal, I had tears in my eyes the entire time because I hadn't gotten to do a show in two full years, and I was finally seeing the full range of emotions from my beautiful cast. Even though everyone had beautiful eyebrows, it was so refreshing to finally see the faces that went with them. The joy and electricity in the theater were palpable.


What made you say yes to working at the Springer this summer?

I wanted to work in a theatre job this summer and since I used to live in Georgia, I've known about Springer. I have always wanted to work there and teach so since I was hired, I said yes immediately. Not only does Springer have a great reputation, but also an amazing track record.

In your opinion, what's the most powerful thing about theatre education?

I think the most powerful thing is the impact it has on the youth. Not only has doing theatre as a child impacted me in other ways, but it's also my career now. Seeing someone when I was 13, who was Black and doing theatre made me realize I could do it too and follow my dreams.

How has theatre shaped your life? What makes you want to share that experience with young people?

Theatre has shaped my life a lot I would say. I went from being an athlete and playing basketball to now being a theatre major in college. Instead of studying Socrates and Plato, I'm learning about Sondheim and key changes. So my life has for sure changed and been shaped in a way. I think I found my love in theatre as a youth. With that being said, I think a younger person maybe seeing someone who looks like them, doing something they enjoy could be life changing.


You grew up in the Academy and you've taught at the Springer for several years now. What made you say yes to coming back for another year?

Even to this day, I still go through the same wave of emotions I went through as a child when it comes to The Academy. The nervous excitement leading up to the beginning of the summer, the “taking a chance on day one,” and the bawling my eyes out at banquet. Perhaps the reason I keep coming back is because even as an adult, The Springer Theatre Academy still fulfills me the ways it did as a child. I still have the same excitement for Springer that little 4th grade Sam had way back in the day!

One of the most magical things about Academy is that it can go through so many changes, (a new director, new venues, a flood, or even an entire pandemic), but at the end of the day, it’s the same old Academy! The Springer has a “spirit” about it that just makes you want to keep coming back. I genuinely feel like I have one of those invisible strings that ties you to a place, I can’t get away, haha!

In your opinion, what's the most powerful thing about theatre education?

To me, the most important thing about theatre education is that it provides non-traditional ways for students to explore and learn new things! Fact: not all students learn the same way, so simply getting up and active when learning things (or even teaching things!) can help students who might need a little something different. Students can easily lose focus sitting in desks, some students might get anxiety with communication with their peers, some might just not have the confidence to shout out the correct answer. Theatre helps with all of these things!

Right now, I’m currently working at Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre in Minnesota where we simply ask the kids to be “Big and Loud!” It might not sound like that big of a deal, but being big and loud is surprisingly hard for some of these kids. Theatre, however, allows all kids to not only have a voice, but to use it for good!

Do you have a favorite memory of your experience with the Academy or the Springer that you can share? How has your time with the Springer shaped your life? What makes you want to continue sharing Springer's legacy with young people?

My favorite Springer memory ever would have to be the end of my first Presentation ever! It was the summer of 2008 and my group (shoutout to the class of D2) was closing the show to the title track from Footloose, and I viscerally remember the feeling I had at the end of the number. I looked out into the blurry audience, lights were blinding my face, the crowd was going wild (including my mom, of course), and I just remember feeling like a superstar! I think it’s my favorite memory because I finally found the place where my dreams can come true, and because of it, it’s shaped everything about me. I’ve said it for years, if it wasn’t for the Springer, I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life. Children’s Theatre has grown into more than just my hobby, but my passion. I love seeing kids the feel proud, joyful, or excited about their work because it reminds me so much of why I fell in love with it in the first place. The power I held was inside of me all of along, and the Springer Theatre Academy is what brought it out of me.

Interested in registering your child for Springer Academy this summer?Sessions are available from June 6 - July 29, 2022 for ages 5-18, and scholarships are available.

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