By Martin Couch
Lisa Gattin has taught[more] students at Bryant for 20 years and in the last 10 has enjoyed showing sixth grade students the art of drama.
“It was derived from an idea of Ms. (Sue) Reeves,” Gattin said, referring to the Bryant Middle School principal. “It’s an elective class that incorporates drama and language skills. This class began with no budget, but I wrote a grant and got enough to get supplies.”
The class uses reading and writing to bring out the students’ creativity.
“It’s more of a Gifted and Talented class where kids learn how to think independently, get better acquainted with other kids and it lets them gain self-confidence from speaking in front of people.”
The class, that started as a nine-week course and evolved into a semester class, holds a production that students participate in for their final grade.
“I was able to expand the curriculum to include the history of theater and different cultures that are part of the acting,” she said. “Students who have trouble in their core classes find that, in this class, they can expand on what they already know, but doing it in a fun way where they are able to create on their own.”
A Christmas play ends the first semester and Robin Hood will be the second semester production this year.
“The students write the scripts and there is parental involvement in building the sets,” Gattin said.
Some of the student’s productions have included the Wizard of Oz, Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella, Bedbugs, Taming of La Rue, which was a mockery of the Shakespeare play Taming of the Shrew and there is a comedy sketch, as well. Not only do those productions bring the semester to a close, Gattin takes her students to shows in Little Rock and last year took a group to New York to see Wicked and Lion King.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “My main focus is for them to develop self-confidence. I always tell them they can tackle anything in life, but I want them to go one step beyond their comfort zone to expand and get motivated. There are lines to memorize, probably more so in my class, but the students know what the end product is going to be and that they are going to feel good about themselves.”
The elective class motivates and challenges the sixth graders.
“I love my kids,” Gattin said. “Just seeing them come up to you and say they wish they could stay here all day long or when I get parent letters, it’s a joy to me. Watching their faces as they learn and the way they study behind the scenes. I love my job.”