Sawyer partners with hundreds of educators who are stars in their communities. From inspiring class content to engaging teaching style, these educators are known for their enriching activities that inspire both children and parents alike.
We got the opportunity to chat with Keegan PLAY-RAH-KA, the educational wing of the Keegan Theatre located in Washington DC.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! I’d love to hear a bit more about you and why you started your business?
Keegan Theatre is a professional theatre located in Washington, DC. Annually they would produce a youth production at a local church but that was the extent of their education program. In 2015, I had been working with Keegan for a few years as a stage manager, and was looking for a change from my job as a full-time public school middle school theatre teacher; at the same time, Keegan was ready to launch a dedication education program. So Keegan PLAY-RAH-KA was born! Keegan PLAY-RAH-KA was designed to be a fun, creative outlet that would allow youth a safe space to explore their authentic voice.
Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?
There are so many...I just think that there is something magical about the way a child lights up after a performance. They have a sense of relief and yet absolute joy from having a moment to be heard and seen.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?
The most rewarding thing about teaching is having a child share a connection they’ve made between class and their lives. When I hear about kids going home and putting on shows with their friends and family, that makes me smile.
What’s one time a child surprised you and made your day?
I have a little yorkie named Lucas that sometimes gets to visit the students. One of our four year olds made me a picture of Lucas and it makes me smile every time I look at it.
Theatre is a safe space where all children can work together on a central goal. It is a space where kids can move, be silly, be loud, be messy, let their imaginations run wild, and let their big feels out.
On a similar note, what’s the funniest thing a child has done in your class?
Kids make me laugh on a regular basis and that’s why I enjoy teaching. When a student dresses up and pretends to be another teaching artist it always makes me laugh.
Your classes revolve around theatre education for all ages. Why is it important for children to partake in these activities?
Theatre is a safe space where all children can work together on a central goal. It is a space where kids can move, be silly, be loud, be messy, let their imaginations run wild, and let their big feels out. It's important to let kids be kids and thats what theatre does.
What's one trick you learned from another educator that you still practice?
Sometimes the students get really excited and loud, so I get really quiet. I pick one child to focus on and start telling them a story. Eventually the other students catch on and sit down to hear the story too.
How has Sawyer helped your business grow?
Sawyer has been an invaluable tool for growing our business. Rather than spending hours manually creating rosters, collecting parent information, and updating our website, this can be delegated out or done in a matter of minutes. This allows me to focus on quality programming, curriculum development, and partnerships.
How do you think children should practice art when they’re not in school or your program?
Children can practice art by telling stories. They can create their own imaginary environments with whatever they have laying around the house. They can turn ordinary objects into magical things with their imagination and creativity.
If you have additional team members, when did you know it was time to make your first hire? How did you navigate the hiring process?
We made our first hire when we launched the program. Keegan PLAY-RAH-KA mentors artists with a passion for teaching so we hire through word of mouth. The Board recently helped us to hire a Manager of Education which we are thrilled about!
How do you balance your time between running your business (from an operational perspective) and teaching/connecting with parents and students?
Now that we have a Manager of Education, I have stepped into the role of Managing Director for the theatre. Billie and our Education Coordinator, Jared take turns with the administrative tasks, and teaching/connecting with parents, students, and partners.