Mohnike scripted as next year’s drama teacher

June 6, 2010 — by Christine Bancroft and David Eng

Next year will be one of change and adjustment for drama students, as current English teacher Kerry Mohnike has volunteered to teach two classes of drama after Chris Mahle, who has led the program for four years, was not retained by the school.

Many students were disappointed about news of Mahle’s departure, which was revealed during a drama club lunch on April 6 by assistant principal Karen Hyde. Junior Hannah Harter said the news was “very upsetting” and was surprised to hear it.

“I’m disappointed,” said Mahle. “I think next year would’ve been my strongest year. This year, I’ve gotten a handle on the art of teaching, and I’ve become more confident. I think next year I would’ve hit my stride.”

Senior Sung Park, who took drama all four years, said, “The drama program is shaky, but he’s done a lot of work to bring it back.”

With a dwindling drama program at Redwood Middle School, there are fewer students applying for similar classes at SHS.

With the future of the drama program uncertain, many students were thrilled to hear students that Mohnike would step in to keep the program afloat, alleviating some of the students’ concerns.

“When I heard we didn’t have a drama teacher for next year, I was a little worried about the drama program at Saratoga,” said Mohnike. “With the budget crisis, we were kind of cutting down in several areas. Drama was an area that I just didn’t want to see go away.”

Coupling this with a greater passion for working with “the amazing pool of talent” in the drama department, Mohnike visited principal Jeff Anderson, expressing her desire to assume the role of drama teacher. “He didn’t have anybody who was jumping up and down to do it, and I had a great interest to participate,” she said.

Anderson emphasized the difficulty of filling that particular position. Although many may intuitively consider drama to be a visual performing arts class like band or orchestra, the credential required to teach the elective is in fact an English degree.

“It’s hard to find a person that’s interested in doing drama that is also interested in teaching English,” said Anderson. “So to have her step up and not only say ‘Yes, I’ll do it,’ but ‘Can I do it and would you let me?’ was great.”

Mohnike will continue to teach English 11 MAP in conjunction with being the Media Arts Program coordinator. However, she will not teach English 11H next year.

“We have great teachers who are currently teaching English 11 Honors, so I’m not worried about students who are in the honors program next year,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having a different part to my day. I’ve been teaching English for almost 20 years, so having English in a different realm sounds very exciting to me.”

Despite drama’s future being more secure than it had been April 6, a teacher has not been announced for Mahle’s digital film classes. Drama student said the fall and spring productions are likely to be taken over by guest directors.

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