Students are funny little animals. They burrow into your heart for a while and then, when they are ready, they scamper out into the world to make their way on their own.
The best part is, though, sometimes they return to visit.
Since beginning my classroom teaching, I’ve been blessed to have students who have been with me since seventh grade, graduated, gone to college, and moved onto their own careers. They’ve gotten married, had children, and still, with everything else going on with their lives, they’ve chosen to return to check in on me and to let me know how they’re doing.
I recently closed a show with a former student who is within a month of graduating. When he first came into my class in seventh grade, he was a scrawny little kid with big eyes, more energy than an electric company is allowed to store, and a vivacity that is unmatched.
For his senior project, he decided to do a benefit for the Sacramento Ballet. He pulled together a gaggle of singers-dancers-actors to create a revue. His cast was phenomenal.
Every senior in his program is supposed to have a mentor in his process. Originally, Alex Stewart, my former student, had chosen a very talented young man with whom to work. For reasons not clearly understood, this fellow had to attend to his own family business out of town, leaving Alex to find another person to fill that role for him.
Although I had stopped teaching at his school, he decided to call me to ask if I would mentor him and music direct the show. I was between shows and I knew some of the cast he had selected, so I was more than willing to donate a bit of time to Alex and toward a worthy cause.
Over the six or more weeks I worked with this terrific team, I had the best time and the show was a huge success. Everyone was thrilled, particularly the Executive and Artistic Director of the ballet company, Ron Cunningham. Because of Alex’s work and focus and the determination and talent of his cast, his outstanding show brought in, in ticket sales, concessions, and matching funds, nearly $6,000 in profit to the beneficiary organization.
Alex is 18 years old.
The show, “At the Ballet: A Musical Revue,” was sold out both nights and the reviews were clear raves from every front.
This was an important time for me because I got to work with a very talent former student and his equally matched cast, and also got to be a part of a worthwhile cause. What more can a fellow ask?
My little animal returned to the burrow for a time and warmed my heart once again. Now, he’s focusing on returning to the outside world, ready to take on the theatrical world by storm… and he will!