College Teaching Experience

I knew from the very start that theater would be an integral part of my life. Growing up among 10 brothers and sisters, a “typical” Italian family as far as I was concerned, it was that environment that instilled a love of music and the arts; in fact, after Sunday dinner, we would perform a talent show replete with lip syncs to Lou Monte’s Yakkity Yak, an interview stint with our Doberman pincer, Rex dressed in gym shorts, my ballet rendition, and a trio of sisters singing to The Fleetwoods’ Come Softly. Thus began my journey to evolve as an artist and educator, with my mantra echoing the Spice Girls’ Wannabe lyrics:
You know what I want, what I really, really want….
I wanted to teach at the college level. That meant pursuing a Ph.D. degree at New York University’s Program in Educational Theater. This was a major turning point for me as an artist and educator. As an English teacher I felt that writing should be fun and not some onerous task; in addition, I wanted to close the Troupe season with plays written by young playwrights. Professor Lowell Swortzell, my advisor, recommended I contact Young Playwrights Inc. Founded by Stephen Sondheim in 1981 as the only professional theater devoted solely to the work of writers aged 18 or younger, Young Playwrights Inc. introduces young people to the theater and encourages their self-expression through the art of playwriting. One of their mission statements is to promote the arts in basic education by facilitating the integration of playwriting into the curriculum. After attending one of their Festivals, I knew that this would be the study of my doctoral research: A History of the Young Playwrights Festival: the first decade (1981 – 1991). The research provided a descriptive overview of the first ten years, its Festival, workshops, teacher training institutes, and staged reading programs. In a 1988 study by Lawrence O’Farrell Teaching the Playwrights Art professional playwrights recommended how playwriting should effectively be taught and how the process of teaching playwriting could be evaluated. These recommendations describe an ideal approach to the teaching of playwriting to determine the effectiveness of the process established by Young Playwrights Inc. to introduce young people to the playwright’s art and to give insight into how their programs help to achieve its stated mission, to nurture the future of American theatre. I earned my Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2001.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching at the college level as an adjunct professor. At Nassau Community College I was assigned the Composition course that had a diverse population ranging from anxious women returning to the workforce to young people who partied too much at school and needed to get their lives back on track. Utilizing the Young Playwrights Inc. Write A Play! Curriculum Guide as a resource, I was able to allay many of their fears about writing as well as challenge those students whose skills were proficient. I used these same resources to supervise student teachers at NYU’s Program in Educational Theater and at the Department of Theatre at CUNY/Brooklyn College’s Educational Theater Initiative as part of their Drama Across the Curriculum course. I attended national conferences presenting workshops and networking across the fields of arts education.
I decided to move forward and pursue work with arts-in-education organizations to further my mission to promote educational theater practices among teachers, students, and the community. (See ‘Professional Development’ page). 

Selections from "The Vagina Monologues

Not-For-Profit Teaching Experience

I knew from the very start that theater would be an integral part of my life. Growing up among 10 brothers and sisters, a “typical” Italian family as far as I was concerned, it was that environment that instilled a love of music and the arts; in fact, after Sunday dinner, we would perform a talent show replete with lip syncs to Lou Monte’s Yakkity Yak, an interview stint with our Doberman pincer, Rex dressed in gym shorts, my ballet rendition, and a trio of sisters singing to The Fleetwoods’ Come Softly. Thus began my journey to evolve as an artist and educator, with my mantra echoing the Spice Girls’ Wannabe lyrics:
You know what I want, what I really, really want….
The Creative Arts Team (CAT)/City University of New York NYC Wolf Trap/Early Learning through the Arts (www.creativeartsteam.org) actively involves pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade students and their teachers in interactive drama activities designed to explore human, social and curricular issues. Within the context of story lines that unfold on a daily or bi-weekly basis, CAT’s professional actor/teachers, together with the children, play a variety of characters and resolve the dilemmas in the story. Choices the children make often determine the story’s outcome, offering young people the opportunity to examine consequences of their actions in a fictional context. Through their contributions, children also come to learn that they have the ability to positively affect themselves and those around them. As its Program Director with a trio of Master Teaching Artists, we created The Tale of Tancho, a conflict resolution workshop on bullying for three and four-year-olds. The objective was to answer and address the central question: What are the responsibilities and actions of a community when faced with bullying? Set within a Japanese community of cranes who make their annual migration to a warmer climate, they must decide how to facilitate this move and work together to achieve their goal. Among the family of cranes, the aggressive Kitagowa bullies Yuki. The bullying escalates to the point where the “children cranes” must decide how to deal with this situation and whether they should intervene. Depending upon their suggestions, the process drama pedagogy allows children to come up with solutions.
Working for Young Playwrights Inc., the organization that was the subject of my doctoral dissertation, was exhilarating. As Director of Instruction, I worked with youngsters in the classroom, taught and hired professional playwrights to teach the Write A Play! Curriculum in classrooms, conducted Teacher Training Institutes, wrote partnering grants with schools and arts organizations, implemented new partnerships with public libraries, developed curriculum for Diary 21: Are We Writing Loud Enough? a collaboration with The Anne Frank Center and The Vineyard Theater. I’ve worked with young playwrights across the nation at the Urban Retreat program where the Lunch & Learn series was created to have theater professionals such as playwright David Henry Hwang, Literary Agent Morgan Jenness, Director Walter Bobbie, among others conduct workshops. I have presented the Write A Play! Curriculum at local, regional, and national conferences. Since the position of Director of Instruction was eliminated due to budget constraints in March 2007, I looked to the future, once again, and decided to pursue artistic avenues, beginning with being cast in an Off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues, creating a professional voiceover demo, workshop a cabaret act, lay the groundwork for First On Line With Fran, and establish a professional website. Now, it’s time to re-invent myself once again to discover…
You know what I want, what I really, really want….