Michelle Morea, Lanier High School’s theater teacher and Teacher of the Year, has spent the last twenty years reaching outside of the classroom. Ms. Morea says, “I pick my shows based on three criteria: what will benefit the student’s education, what will benefit the general education of the school at large, and what larger life lessons can be taught through our performances.”
This is evident in her experiences as both an educator and a mentor. When Ms. Morea began crafting her drama programs, she catered toward the benefit of both her students and the outward community. Through education, she creates lasting bonds with her students, standing by them during anything from high school drama to divorce and abuse, only to have them return the support, often many years later, during her own personal hardships.
Sara Samuels, a senior at Lanier, explains that “anyone can find a place within the drama department simply because Ms. Morea takes time to talk to and provide for each person.” Furthermore, “she creates a positive community because she makes everyone feel loved.”
Ms. Morea reaches beyond her own programs, supporting both her students’ personal endeavors and those of other school organizations. She explains that, last year, the program produced their “first student written one act play, Warhol’s Baggage, by Mallory Coleman.” Similarly, during the performances of Into the Woods, the program assisted Lanier’s environmental club with a book drive.
Ms. Morea claims, “when you have a program that close, when you have that team, you are working for each other,” and the extra work required to produce shows that are both high quality and impactful “doesn’t seem like extra work!”