While Mrs. Townsend, one of the Middle School drama teachers, enjoys time off with her new baby, Ms. Rasheeda Moore has assumed her position at Athens Academy, teaching classes and directing the Middle School play, Pirates of Penzance. Although Ms. Moore had never taught in a classroom setting, she has conducted improvisation workshops with young people, which she has offered twice at Athens Academy. Ms. Moore began developing her workshop in Chicago, where she settled in 2006 after traveling across the United States working in theater. Once in Chicago, Ms. Moore gravitated toward the “freedom” of improvisation: whereas Ms. Moore, a woman and person of color, felt limited by typecasting in the “scripted world” of staged theater, improvised theater relies solely on each participant’s skill.
The evolution of Ms. Moore’s professional career can be traced to her seventh grade, when she took her first “real” theater class. She was hooked, and throughout high school Ms. Moore received additional instruction from a children’s theater in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Eventually, Ms. Moore received a Master’s Degree in Theater Performance. She had not returned to the traditional classroom until now, though, which made her “nervous” at first; in fact, she expressed disinterest when Ms. Thompson, the second member of Middle School’s Drama Department duo, reached out to her about filling Mrs. Townsend’s absence. However, “the universe seemed to be pushing [her]” toward the position, said Ms. Moore, and after her most recent work touring with The Second City, an improv-based sketch comedy troupe, she arrived to Athens.
So far, Ms. Moore has enjoyed experiencing her students’ creativity and “adapting to the social culture” of school. Teaching also reminds Ms. Moore that “life doesn’t stop at the door,” and many forget the challenges that affect young people too. That’s where drama classes come in: by teaching fun, constructive skills such as puppetry arts, storytelling, and public speaking, they are unique spaces in the worlds of students; and Athens Academy welcomes Ms. Moore as someone who can uphold this tradition.