St. Francis Classroom Visit & Peer Observation with Lein Walseth
November 21, 2023
Five theater educators and directors from across the Twin Cities and the St. Cloud metro area joined Perpich’s Theater Education Specialist, Dr. Stephanie Lein Walseth, at St. Francis Middle School and St. Francis High School on Thursday, November 16th, to observe theater teachers Mark Rehani and Glenn Morehouse Olson in action. They witnessed 8th graders beginning a tech/design unit on mask making, and joined in theater warm up activities with the high school’s “Focus on Drama” students before observing their play rehearsal.
“Teachers learning from teachers” is at the heart of Perpich’s Classroom Visit program, and so following their observations, participants and demonstrating teachers gathered for lunch and a conversation facilitated by Lein Walseth. “Together, they asked questions of one another, shared reflections and wonderings, and sparked ideas to bring back to their classrooms,” said Lein Walseth.
Following the Classroom Visit, participants’ comments reflected that they felt affirmed in their own practices, that they had gained new ideas for managing their classrooms and shaping their curriculum, and that they felt inspired by the possibilities afforded by having a full-time theater teacher and by seeing the impact of 6-12 theater arts scaffolding. Another critical outcome of the Classroom Visit day, and the program more broadly, is that arts educators leave feeling less isolated and more connected to one another – a vital component of teacher success, retention in the field, and satisfaction in their work.
Stephanie Lein Walseth, Ph.D. is a theater educator, artist, administrator, and scholar with over 20 years experience working with students and artists of all ages. She is a founding core artistic group member of Full Circle Theater Company, and she has served tenures with Penumbra Theatre Company, Mu Performing Arts, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Sod House Theater, among many other professional companies in Minnesota and across the country. Stephanie received her Ph.D. in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota, and her research focuses on theaters of color and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She has served as an instructor and curriculum developer at Augsburg University, the University of Minnesota, and Penumbra. Her writing has appeared in HowlRound, Theatre Topics, e-misférica, The Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance, and the anthology Theater, Performance and Change.