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Amazing Lagos Island Principal reveals some wisdom about drama teaching.


Nigeria
08 February

 

Sarah set up an organisation called SPAN, the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria and through this the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy is responsible for the acting and communication skills side in this incredible movement.

Sarah has a great passion for drama as it has helped herself and her children in developing confidence and speaking ability. 

We asked Sarah some questions about this incredible journey and her answers were absolutely inspiring:

What did you do before you became a Principal of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy?

Before Helen O'Grady and until today, I am the founder and chairperson of SPAN, the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria - a non-profit organisation with the vision to build a performing arts centre in Nigeria where we present, educate and empower the performing artist and his or her God-given talent. I am a certified creative dance instructor, a ballet teacher and a mentor for the creative performing arts community centre in Lagos island in which we teach over 130 students at a subsidised cost.

How did you hear about the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy?

Helen O'Grady came to our area with a fantastic drama expert named Marianne Terblanche and as we became friends and she became my mentor, I saw the Academy soar to greater heights in the space of a year taking centre stage in the field of drama teaching in our community. I offered my house for her fantastic Helen O'Grady summer camps and she trained some of our teachers, including my daughter, who blossomed in the Academy . Her franchise was a breath of fresh air where all our children to gain confidence in speaking and overall expression. When Marianne decided to sell the franchise, I was excited to take it over as I saw the great value it could add to our performing arts community in Nigeria and for SPAN - www.spanigeria.org

What made you decide to become a franchisee?

Marianne’s great mentorship and the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy's international curriculum convinced me to take on the challenge. SPAN needed to have a drama section as we only had music and dance. It also provide a well-structured programme to kick start a an opportunity for drama students to become teachers, develop their passion to teach the children in a positive, uplifting programme.

What aspects of the Principal training were especially bene1cial to you?

Most of the principles infused in the Helen O'Grady programme from the improvisation to the skits and the methods used to encourage and motivate our students were the most effective and ground breaking techniques to implement in my passion to teach. It’s easy, well structured, fun and very specific in making sure our kids, even the shy ones, love drama. The Marketing programme was also an eye opener for our organisation and the administrative techniques even allowed us to grow and redefine our own programme in the SPAN Academy. It s a highly efficient system and easy to implement.

What month and year did you start your first Academy?

January 2011

What obstacles have you overcome to start a Helen O'Grady Drama Academy, if any?

To start the Academy, the biggest obstacles were finding committed teachers for the task and we had to recruit many before finding suitable people that would be committed to see the Academy growing but we did it with patience and observing due diligence, we now have a stronger team. We are still pushing to recruit more teachers and encourage others to
join in the programme.

Can you tell us what some of your achievements have been since starting as a Principal?

As a Principal we trained over 25 teachers which now have become very successful in their field. We produced three major stage productions and started training over 250 young professional adults using the Helen O'Grady technique, as well as empowering over 500 young children in our children's day festivals. Our franchise spread its wings, teaching over 30 schools in our area. One year we lost some of our classes in one of our school because some of our trained teachers proposed their personal services, but the school soon realised that the curriculum was very effective and added more value to the drama curriculum and we are back in the same school with more classes than we started!

If you can give a new Principal some words of advice when they start out, what would you suggest?

First build a team that will be committed and will grow to love the programme. Spend time with well trained and experienced Helen O'Grady franchisees and learn from their own experiences through the regional seminars. Always showcase what the children are learning so their parents can gain confidence in the Helen O'Grady technique. Communication and feedback are key holders of the programme, especially with school principals, teachers at the schools, the students and the parents.

How many people on your staff?

3 Helen O'Grady Drama Academy teachers and 20 staff members in SPAN

How many children attend each week?

200

What advice would you pass on to a new franchisee as regards to staff?

Train and assess your teachers and make sure they sign a contract that will protect the Academy and the international curriculum.

Why do you believe drama is important for children?

Our journey is filled with different dimensions . As we enter this world we are bombarded by information and as a child we journey to unknown experiences that might either lift us up or pull down. Drama Is a life tool to allow you to stand in these moments where everything can seem gloomy. Drama transports you into another world where you not only rediscover yourself but immerse yourself in someone else's character and redefine the norms of your daily activities. The freedom, the laughter, the intimacy, the joy experienced with drama gives this sense of belonging and courage to carry on other tasks that might be difficult to handle. Drama lights up my spirit and allows me to explode in different emotions and turns around my perspective about others around me. In Drama class, I am focused and become much more aware of my surroundings. Drama is a necessity for grooming the very essence of our being. Without drama in my life , I would have not been able to speak in front of the public, stand bold in a debate or even face many challenges which required me to speak. Drama is and will always remain not only the stage tool to shine on stage but also a tool to discern your surroundings and take action when needed.

Would you like to mention anything else about your time with the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy?

I cherished the memories of my training with Duncan and Gavin, the African Directors of Helen O'Grady Drama Academy, and meeting principals and teachers from other countries. The programme is always filled with interesting scripts that always challenges me to think out of the box. Helen O’Grady is a such an efficient way to teach drama that I have grown personally teach it and became a better teacher from it.

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"Helen O’Grady Drama Academy has helped to stimulate my creativity, my communication skills and has also given me a positive self image."

- Lagos Student, Nigeria