“The arts enhance every part of education.”

Video transcript:

I love what I do and I just love — I just love it. Because kids, they’re able to get so much out of performing. And when I have the ability in my position, the kids are involved from start to finish.

I’m a product of Boston Public Schools. I saw what was done wrong and I saw what was done right, and I wanted to come in and be able to give back to the students that looked like me. And brown and Black children need to see faces that look like them. 

We decided to cast fourth and fifth graders to do Romeo and Juliet. Only one fourth grader auditioned. And the fourth grader was this very shy student. She very rarely shared in class unless she was asked to, and if she did, it was almost at a whisper. But she decided to try out for the nurse.

This girl never missed one practice. And during all the practices, we just couldn’t believe how funny she was because she was so quiet and kept to herself. But during this process, she began to make friends in the classroom, she was talking more. And then it was showtime, and she was absolutely phenomenal. 

It was so amazing as a teacher to watch somebody blossom from that caterpillar that was shy to that beautiful butterfly opening up and spreading her wings on stage — and just becoming amazing. 

It gives kids so much confidence and so much ability. 

I have a student right now that is going to perform in a program on Thursday. And that student said if it was not for this play, he would not wanna come to school. The arts make kids wanna come to school: being part of something, knowing that they have an end product and end goal.

The message I want to get across is that the arts are just as important as every aspect of education. If someone said, the kids are underperforming, especially because of COVID — look, the arts enhance any student’s learning. Especially students that are behind. The more confident or successful they can feel in any area of education, the more successful they’ll be in other areas of education.

I’ve been told, “this student can’t read” or “they’re a non-reader.” But in my class, in my play, they’ve learned their lines.

So I believe strongly: the arts enhance every part of education. Math — you’re learning to count, you’re learning to remember how to do operations. You’re counting your steps on a stage. You’re counting how many people are spaced away from you.

So there’s always areas for the students to learn and enhance all aspects of education through the arts. 

–Julie White
Theater Teacher at Boston Public Schools
Boston, MA

Wondering how you can support Julie and her students? Visit Julie’s DonorsChoose profile to donate to her theater arts classroom.

This video is one of 20 teacher interviews created to encourage the general public to #passthe🎤 to a teacher. You can view all video interviews here, on YouTube, on Facebook, or on Instagram Reels.