O'Connor, Kelly

Feb. 17, 2004, midnight | 17 years, 2 months ago

by Emma Zachurski

Name: Kelly Newman
Department: Drama
Education: English degree from Catholic University, Teaching degree from Maryland University
Came to Blair in: 1997
Previous jobs: Employed at Folger's Library, English teacher at Takoma Park Middle School.
Hobbies: Theater,dance.
Extra Curricular: directs school plays.

Kelly Newman takes a break from her busy day of teaching classes full of eager students. She speaks to the other English teachers in room 141 during 5A lunch, her gestures radiating an aura of enthusiasm.

Newman has been teaching at Blair since 1997, but this year she has begun to teach drama exclusively. Prior to the 2003-04 school year Newman also taught various English classes, and before working in Blair she taught English at Takoma Park Middle School.

Although her Takoma Park days are behind her, Newman still attributes her time at the middle school to helping her make such a smooth transition into the Blair staff. She says that when she came from Takoma to Blair she recognized a lot of familiar faces.

Additionally, Newman also continues to organize school play productions as she did when she taught at Takoma. She cannot stop sharing positive comments about the drama department. "It's fantastic," she says of Blair's drama department, revealing a gleaming smile polished with pride.

This pride isn't just for what Newman herself has done for Blair's drama department, but for everyone involved with the department. "We have these stunning sets," Newman compliments the newest sets created by Blair stage crew students for the fall Play Pericles.

Newman's voice adopts a tone of admiration while she expresses her appreciation of student participation in the drama department. She states that she is thankful to have such diverse casts with endless role assignments available. "It speaks well for our program," Newman reflects on the abundant student drama work.

Compared to Blair's vast drama department, Newman explains how lacking her own high school's drama department was. She says that her school was low in student participation and adds with a chuckle that the lead role of the school's production of Oliver Twist was cast to a student from another school. However, it was during Newman's high school drama days that she got what she describes as her first good role - playing Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker.

Additionally, Newman says that her school didn't promote or advertise drama to get more participants. Despite her disappointment in her own high school drama experience, Newman was inspired by a few of her teachers there. "I always wanted to be an English teacher," she says reflecting on her aspirations.

After her high school graduation, Newman went to Catholic University for her first degree in English. She remembers that while at Catholic she was inspired by her Shakespeare teacher to pursue a career in teaching. Newman says that there also is an impressive theater department at Catholic. However, since she was not a drama major, and was only able to perform in one of the University's major shows.

Following Catholic University, Newman attended the Shakespeare Institute to major in Shakespeare Studies. After completing studies in the Institute, she got a job at the Folger's Library in Washington, D.C.

It was during her time working at Folger that Newman directed her first play. With a smile painted on by nostalgia, she says that one day during work she received a call from Alice Deel High School in D.C., informing her that the teacher in charge of their play production, Comedy of Errors had just quit. The school then asked if somebody at Folger's would please direct the play for them. She recalls that she was immensely excited to take the offer of directing.

Even though Newman has a lot of work with Blair's productions, she has still finds time to perform in local area plays. Her last community theater performance was in the summer of 2002.

"I was ecstatic to finally play Juliet," she smiles while remembering her performance in the Celden Street Players' show of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.

Newman is also says that she is intrigued with other arts besides drama. She has tried to integrate visual art, dancing, and music in to her theater works.

She admits with a smirk, "I was a ballet kid."

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