Community Spotlight

Provider Spotlight: The Actors Garden

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 empower both children and parents alike.

We got the opportunity to chat with The Actors Garden, a provider on Sawyer who offers theatre classes, workshops, and camps to children in the Chicago area.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! I’d love to hear a bit more about you and why you started your business.

I have had a lifelong passion for theatre  and children. I am so lucky to be able to combine these into a career in  theatre education. 

I have been teaching for over thirty years and have worked with several theatre companies. Twelve years ago I felt it was time to strike out on my own creating a company that emphasizes the process over product. As time has gone on, I have come to embrace process and product. I believe because we have an enriching and safe environment for our actors, the product is something we can all be proud of.  

Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?  

Because most of our students stay with us for several years, I get to watch children start off not sure of their place in the theatre world and grow into confident young adults. 

What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?  

They are full of joy, energy and  ready to jump into new experiences! I learn so much from them.

Photo of theatre classes for kids

What’s one time a child surprised you and made your day? 

I don’t have one specific example. However, what thrills me is when students create something that has inspired them because of a class they took with us or a camp they attended. For example, we have students that create books, videos, show and tell projects, etc highlighting their experience with The Actors Garden. I am so honored that what we do inspires these creative and amazing children.

On a similar note, what’s the funniest thing a child has done in your class? 

This just happened yesterday:

At the end of the class I had a child say to me “Goodbye Ms. Gigi I love you and you are beautiful." As I was soaking in this love another child came up to me and said, “see ya old grandma!” Perfect way to keep it real.

One more: A child was telling everyone in class about her inability to focus and sit still. She said, “I can’t focus and I move around a lot because I have PHD. Another child chimed in “Me too!"

Why is after school/extracurricular enrichment and camp so important for children?  

I believe it gives children an opportunity to cultivate their creativity and give them a voice outside the regular classroom.  

How do you think children can discover their passions when they’re not in school or your programs? 

I think they recognize the fun in theatre and the pride of working on a project with others.  I feel they love the sense of community they create.

What is your favorite Sawyer feature? 

The ease of setting up classes and how it plugs into our website.

Photo of classes for kids

What's one trick you learned from another educator that you still practice? 

I learned that instead of reprimanding challenging behavior, thank those who are working as a team and creating a good environment for all is very effective.

How do you balance your time between running your business (from an operational perspective) and teaching/connecting with parents and students? 

I have a fantastic assistant who helps with social media and correspondence with parents.  

How has Sawyer helped your business? 

It makes it easy for customers to sign up and capture our data. The communication tools are also a nice feature.

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