Grosh Backdrops and Projections recently chatted with Rachel Brown of Central Middle School, Runner-Up winner of Grosh Cares 2019.
She was one of the more energetic and passionate teachers we have spoken with; this energy has led to successes in the Title 1 school. (A Title 1 school receives supplemental
funding because of a concentration of low-income students; it has at least 40% of their students on free lunch.)
Many of the students were not exposed to the arts before her arrival; many did not even know what theatre was. So she took chances and established herself; stating that once the students know who Ms. Brown is, it gets much easier to teach and gain acceptance. Ms. Brown let her students take chances, too, creating safe spaces to explore the material in different languages and different improvisation techniques.
While the energy in the classrooms easily progressed, getting those involved from the community and getting funds appeared harder. During one of Ms. Brown’s first shows, she noticed that parents did not attend either because they did not have time or felt uncomfortable. She never experienced such a thing and she was concerned. In order to mitigate this, she invited community leaders to the shows, sparking an increase in audience. Also, she noticed translating show materials so all can follow helped tremendously. Efforts like these help the community bond, showing little divisions when the effort is there.
As mentioned, funding is hard to come by for public schools in Kansas City, so Ms. Brown partners with sponsors to support the purchase of props and other scenery. It gets the art community and other local businesses involved, assumingly augmenting the sense of community Ms. Brown cultivates. Ms. Brown also spends her own money to build props. She often buys lumber and spends her weekends building and painting sets. Yes, she is aware that it is not her job but it makes her and her students happy.
Grosh is amazed by Ms. Brown’s influence and we were excited to hear about the impact we made on the students. Ms. Brown told us about several students crying when they heard about receiving the award. Many students have not received much accolades or awards; receiving this award makes a difference. Again, Grosh Cares was designed to have this impact and we are excited to see what it does for those in our community.