Crossing over: Teacher transitions back to being student for summer

Many of us look to our teachers as mentors, guides, and in many cases, holders of infinite knowledge who we could only one day hope to possess. Often times we forget that teachers were once students, and have shared many of the difficult feats we face every day. For some teachers, school doesn’t end with the final bell after finals, but instead they trade their teaching caps for thinking caps, and take on the role of a student once again.

For theatre teacher Katie Cross, returning to school is just another step in her path to obtain her goals.

“I’m so excited about going back to school,” Cross said. “I’m getting my masters of arts in directing at Roosevelt University in Chicago, which is an amazing top conservatory school.”

The prestigious program only accepts a total of 12 directors into their school every year. Cross will spend seven weeks over the next three summers studying theatre theory, technical theatre, and directing classes to obtain her degree.

“I’m so excited to live in Chicago and get to intern at professional theatre companies there, and see amazing shows,” Cross said. “I’m really excited about pursuing education and I think it’s really important for my students to learn that you can never stop learning.”

For Cross, a career in directing and education wasn’t always her initial plan. Cross began her career aspiring to be a professional performer on Br0oadway, but after time and experience with children, Cross was able to fuse her performing dreams with new found teaching aspirations.

“I began to work at children’s camps and started directing there and realized that I really enjoy working with students,” Cross said. “I was working in a professional theatre gig at the time and I was like ‘you know I love this but I love students more.’ After that everything changed, I began theatre education and never looked back.”

Cross describes her experience in teaching as both challenging and rewarding, and is constantly motivated by her students.

“I think it’s important that students take theatre because it’s a fine art that encompasses all the fine arts,” Cross said. “I enjoy teaching theatre at a high school level because students in their high school years have a lot of questions, and they’re searching for answers and trying to find where they belong and theatre is a place where everyone can belong.

Cross bases her theatre program on disciplines within the field and tries to bring same rigor and intensity present in a college setting.

“It’s really important that students understand that they’re here to work and to learn,” Cross said. “My goal for my students and my theatre program is when they leave me they will be able to go to the professional theatre world at a collegiate level.”

Cross’ motivating attitude and countless hours with her students doesn’t go unnoticed. For students actively involved with the theatre program, to entry level theatre I classes, Cross pushes her students to succeed in every way.

“She pushes us really hard when it comes to us needing to get things done,” Senior Haven Pottinger said. “She can usually motivate us to do our school work and theatre work.”

Cross intends to use the schooling she receives the next three summers to not only better herself as a director, but to incorporate the education she receives back into her students lives.
“I’m excited to go learn and come back and teach my students everything I learned,” Cross said. “I’m always wanting to make sure I have up-to-date techniques and improve what can be better for my students.”

Cross describes the rewarding feelings of seeing students benefit from her program, and dive into the world of theatre.

“Students come up to me and they say ‘I finally feel like I belong somewhere and I finally feel like I’m accepted here where I’m loved, challenged’,” Cross said. “These students are going to walk away with an appreciation for theatre and art, and that is a great moment.”

Cross hopes her ambition and endless effort in her own schooling and in the theatre arts program shows students that hard work ultimately leads to a world of opportunity.
“Often times I sit in the empty theatre where it’s quiet and still and I just soak up the possibilities of what can happen there,” Cross said.