My ninth grade year was a cluster. I had started high school in Edmond Oklahoma, then two weeks in, my family moved back to Nebraska. I soon realized how much I was losing – I was devastated. I had made multiple special music and drama groups in Edmond, was part of an amazing gifted and talented class, and was taking several honors classes. And – my Girl Scout troop was lit. And – my dance studio was prepping me for further study. I lost all of that in the move.
Colleen was my drama teacher in Lincoln – somehow she managed to put up with my grief-disguised-as-bitter-anger and channeled my theater needs into multiple stage opportunities. She also connected me with the Lincoln Community Playhouse – where in one semester I got to perform in The Velveteen Rabbit and Oklahoma!
Colleen didn’t just placate or comfort me – she taught me to take my emotional upheaval and direct it in healthy spaces.
As I think back, her method of helping me reminds me of some 12 step sayings – feelings are not facts, feelings will pass, respond not react, think first, etc.
In my 9th grade yearbook (mind you, this was back to junior high in Lincoln, so a paper thing), Colleen expressed her hopes for me. She wrote more than a “great year!” generic teacher signing, she expected me to go on to Northwestern in Illinois and major in musical theater or double major in music and theater. That still means the world to me, even though I took a different path.
Today I give thanks for Colleen, a woman of empathy and vision, for sticking with me when I wasn’t a very likable person.