This statement is written in support of my application for a Certificate of Continuous Employment (CCE) at The City College of New York in the City University of New York. As a full-time faculty member since Fall 2010, my work has supported my strong commitment to the field of Educational Theatre and service to the community. For greater detail please see my curriculum vitae and visit my website at www.sobha.net.
My personal teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea that a successful classroom is when students are engaged, active, and creative and when they work as an ensemble to discover answers to problems that may arise. My goal for the Educational Theatre Program has been to develop hands-on practical experiences for our graduate candidates, developing their skills and bringing quality theatre education to the community. In fact, my passion for community engagement also led me to work with the Colin Powell Center for Service Learning as a recipient of the Fellowship in Service Learning from the Colin Powell Center.
As a Faculty member on a Lecturer line I teach 27 credits per academic year.
Peer and Student Evaluations
Teaching Evaluations are extremely positive from Faculty Peer Assessments; often times overall total scores have been 4.0 on a 4.0 scale. One peer observer wrote, “The classroom climate reflected excitement, the desire to want to share, laughter and liveliness. There was a sense of trust and comfort in the room because candidates were
able to share their feeling and fears candidly and readily. The entire session was lively, engaging and rich in discussions. Sobha has clearly created a classroom climate that was conducive to candid sharing, reflecting and discussing of all kinds of issues.” Another wrote, “This was a well-structured lesson that made good use of the classroom time and provided many opportunities for group interaction. The lesson proceeded smoothly. There was a good balance of creative activity and presentation/review of content and this reinforces the main ideas regarding adaptations of stories and books for and with children and to summarize procedures.”
Student course evaluations have been consistently positive. Based on the Summary of Course Evaluations from Fall 2009 – Spring 2014 (which also includes 1 year of adjunct teaching) the scores from my evaluations ranged from a low of 90% to a high of 100%. Seventeen of the 22 averages were actually in the range of 95% - 100% while seven courses received a rating of 100%. These averages indicate that, overall, students were very positive about their responses. Student comments include, “I cannot say enough about Sobha Paredes (Kavanakudiyil). Her passion for what she teaches and the care and concern she has for her students to understand and absorb the knowledge in this field will only empower them.” Another student comment, “Sobha is an incredible teacher. She is patient and intelligent. She took time with me this semester to help me with my writing. She understands what she is teaching. I learned so much during this class”
It is a privilege for educators to share best practices with colleagues, so it has been my pleasure to respond to invitations for guest lectures in other instructors’ courses. Inspired by a workshop by Moises Kaufman on a technique called “Moment Work,” I was a guest in EDCE 2900I (Research in Educational Theatre), a course taught by Professor Jennifer Katona, where I worked with candidates to inspire the artistry in them as they planned how to share their research.
I have also been a guest in EDCE 42100 (Integrating Curriculum through Social Studies) taught by Professor Catherine Franklin. In this class I used a drama technique called “Process Drama” to teach a lesson on the Trail of Tears.
I have also been a guest in Professor Lisa Simon’s course EDCE 1600/1600C (Literacy Inquiry Practicum, Birth – Grade 12). For this class I created a workshop to make the arts accessible for candidates in the teaching of literacy. In addition, I was a guest in EDCE 7804C (Research IV in the Literacy Program). In this class I modeled the sharing of research using drama.
We encourage our students to be true to their artistry and keep that at the heart of their teaching. I have been able to satisfy my artistry as an actor, singer and director, which in turn, has shown my students how they can pursue their teaching careers without sacrificing their own artistry. I have directed and produced the Readings on the Road series (see below for a description). I was also a part of a cabaret performance calledDear Diary in the fall of 2011 not only as a support faculty member but also as a performer. In addition, I was cast as a puppeteer in the student-written musical Ruby and the Storm, a musical that teaches young children about the importance of emergency preparedness.
With the goal of keeping our students aware of new trends and the growing needs of the field, I often invite experts from important arts organizations to my classes. Samplings of the guests we have had are: Alex Santiago Jirau from the Center for Arts Education and The Forum Project, Lindsay Bueller Maliekal from the New Victory Theater, Michael Wiggins from Urban Arts Partnership, Jennifer DiBella from The Roundabout Theater, Jeremiah Drake from Riverside Church (facilitating Theatre of the Oppressed), Courtney J. Boddie from the New Victory Theater, Lauren Jost from Spellbound Theatre, Amy Harris from Manhattan Theater Club to name a few.
Students in my classes have created theatre with seniors at Manhattanville Senior Center and with homeless shelter residents at West Harlem Group (7900A). In another class, student ran empowerment-through-the-arts workshops with families at HELP USA Homeless Shelter. My students also have many opportunities to create experiences in schools, including PS 161, PS 180, and Hamilton Heights School. Special programs such as Family Arts Day and Family Arts Saturdays (see below), have allowed students to create arts experiences for families and children from age 2-7 years.
Partnering with Community Based Organizations
To meet the goal of providing practical applications of theatre education to serve our community, I have developed the following initiatives. Toward these ends, I have developed the Educational Theatre Program’s community outreach efforts including: Family Arts Day, Family Arts Saturday Program, the Arts Integration Residency Program, and the Readings on the Road performance series.
Family Arts Day is an annual event that is an opportunity for our students to bring drama into the lives of the greater Harlem community. It is coordinated with EDCE 4400C Integrating Theatre and Related Arts.
Family Arts Saturdays started in the spring of 2011 and is coordinated with EDCE 4400C Integrating Theatre and Related Arts. The program includes classes for 2’s and under, 3 and 4 year olds and 5-7 year olds.
The Arts Integration Residency Program is coordinated with EDCE 4400C Integrating Theatre and Related Arts. Working closely with Public School 161 to develop this program, candidates who will be Teaching Artists are partnered with classroom teachers with whom they will work, primarily in K-2 classrooms. The residencies last 6-8 weeks. This year we have grown the program to coordinate with EDCE 4000F Drama as a Learning Medium where candidates will have the opportunity to work with 6th – 8th grade classes.
Readings on the Road is a performance series that is coordinated with EDCE 3600C Theatre for Youth and Young Audiences. Candidates perform for child audiences in the Harlem Community. This series allows candidates to write age-appropriate adaptations and develop them for performance. Performances have included Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess Who Could Not Cry and most recently Yuki and the Elephant.
Pre-show Lessons are developed by candidates in EDCE 3600C Theatre for Youth and Young Audiences for students in grades 3-5 at PS 161. These lessons will prepare the children to see a performance given by PS 161 middle school students who present a show under the direction of Professor Jennifer Katona in EDCE 3700C.
In addition to service to the community described above, I have contributed extensive service to the university at a variety of levels.
The 2012 Cultural Arts Fair was a special event as part of the In Defense of Childhood Conference, where 35 cultural organizations attended and shared resources with attendees including parents and in-service and pre-service teachers.
Serving as the Lincoln Center Education Liaison is an opportunity to use my knowledge of arts education to support the entire School of Education at City College. I work with Lincoln Center Education to schedule, communicate and engage faculty.
The Scholarship Committee is an ad-hoc committee that has been put together to review scholarship applicants for the entire School of Education. For the academic year 2013-2014 I was the co-chair of the committee and the master of ceremony for the awards ceremony.
Educational Theatre Program
I have supported the development and growth of the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre in many ways. The program started 7 years ago with only 8 students and now in its 7th year has approximately 76 students.
I served as Program Director in the fall of 2011, in the spring of 2014, and for one month in the fall of 2014 as my colleague, Jennifer Katona was on maternity leave. As Program Director, I was solely responsible for completing admissions, new student orientation, registration, coordination of all special events, and promotion of our program.
I was also responsible for developing our Non Certification Stream for students who become arts administrators in cultural organizations or teaching artists in schools and non-traditional settings, and have created courses to meet the needs of these students.
Collaborating with Jennifer Katona, Program Director, I have contributed to curriculum proposals that have streamlined our course plans and supported quality preparation for theatre teachers. I also maintain a strong connection with our alumni, promoting our program on social media and holding information sessions. I have also represented our program at many conferences; In July 2014 I hosted an exhibit table at the AATE Conference (American Alliance of Theatre Educators Conference), the largest national theatre education conference in our field.
I am active in the field of Arts Education, with leadership roles at the state and national level.
As a member of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, I have been asked to serve a three year term with the Board of Directors of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, beginning fall 2014, an organization that brings together approximately 400 cultural organizations in New York City. In addition, I will be aConference Co-chair for this organization’s local Face to Face Conference. This conference will be held, for the third year in a row, at City College. I have also served as the Roundtable’s Co-Chair for the Teaching Artist Affairs Committee, managing events to support both new and experienced teaching artists.
I am also a member of AATE (American Alliance for Theatre and Education). In addition to having presented at many of their national conferences, I am a member of the TIOS Conference planning committee. TIOS (Theatre In Our Schools) is the New York chapter of AATE.
In addition, I serve as a member of the Board of Directors for Spellbound Theater, a new company devoted to creating original, multi-disciplinary performances and educational programs for the very young (ages 0-5).
It is with great pride that I accepted my position as Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre after an intense national search and applicant pool of 175 applicants, and began in the fall of 2010. Since then, I have continued to contribute to the changing needs of the field of Educational Theatre and continue to support the pre-service theatre teachers and teaching artists graduating from the City College Educational Theatre Program in obtaining careers for which they feel as much passion as I do for mine.