Our Tappers with their Tap InstructorsOur group hit the floor running this year.  Pictured are our student leaders that range from fourth grade to twelfth grade.  We are not looking at just creating an older group of leaders, but a group that is going to grow with our program and help train future leaders as well.

We have always worked towards building a program that allowed us to have student leaders and have had success, but we needed time with student leaders to help them learn the leadership skills needed to work with other students.  This year, we have been able to create this missing piece through Tuesday night tap.  The directors picked students that had demonstrated potential leadership skills over the past few seasons, to become our “Newsies Tappers”.

For ten weeks, these students gave up their Tuesday nights from 6:00 to 11:00 pm to learn how to tap, but more importantly, the drive to tap classes gave the directors time to talk to the students.  To go over some of the soft skills needed to be a leader.  How to listen, how to speak with students they were having difficulty with, and other essential skills that are needed to move the student leadership piece of our program forward.

The students started taking on these leadership roles.  Was every interaction a success?  No.  This allowed us to have new conversations and start teaching the leaders how to navigate conversations and not come across as bossy or confrontational in their speech, but how to actually lead the other students on stage to get the desired outcomes.

What has occurred though, is a new building of relationships in the area.  The leaders have started asking for activities that they create for the group.  They are not afraid to go to a group of students in the room and interact with them, rather than staying with their groups.  If they see a student sitting by themself, we know that one of the leaders will be there shortly, checking in on them and trying to get them to laugh.

Our unspoken goal has always been to create a theatre family and we are starting to see that grow larger than it has ever in the past.  Having this extra time, that is not rushed or having to be carved out has truly enhanced our program.

About the author: Hardy Reeves
Hardy is a Computer Science Teacher at Orestimba High School, in Newman, CA. He is also the Musical Theatre Director for the district, which produces a yearly musical with students in grades 4-12.