Kendra Dority

During the past few months, my expectations for the summer Educators’ Workshop with Santa Cruz Shakespeare have been in constant flux, ranging from grand visions of what the project could be and do (i.e., lay the groundwork for a more robust arts education program at SCS and build lasting partnerships with local teachers and schools) to more concrete, immediate goals (i.e., what needs to be done this week in order to make the event happen). Two recent conversations with my partner organizations have invited me to rethink what it will mean to measure success during and after this summer workshop. These conversations have also helped me to connect the more immediate goals of my day-to-day tasks with a bigger picture—that is, to bridge practical with imaginative thinking.

First, my primary collaborator at SCS recently raised the important question about how we will follow up with our teacher participants after the workshop. With her eye toward grant applications, she must consider how to tell a story about this event that will be legible to future funders—a practical, yet urgent, requirement for any non-profit arts organization. Her suggestions for follow-up, such as conducting surveys about the workshop’s impact, have reminded me of the work required to stay connected with our public after the event is over. Our conversation pointed to the work necessary for cultivating and maintaining the lasting partnerships I’ve been envisioning since the start of the project. For me, this conversation exemplifies the importance of merging the practical with the visionary.

In another recent conversation, my faculty mentor, who directs the UC Santa Cruz Shakespeare Workshop research center, provided insight into what this summer workshop can mean for future connections among the university, SCS, and a community of teachers. One of my faculty mentor’s goals is to augment the professional development opportunities available to Humanities graduate students. He envisions this project as, among other things, a pathway toward future graduate student involvement both with SCS and with a variety of community-based, teaching-oriented opportunities. With this goal in mind, I have begun to think about the impact of the summer workshop in new ways. Whereas I had initially imagined that a successful project would equate to the establishment of the event as an annual program, now I see how even a less lofty outcome can still lead to future opportunities for community collaboration. If by the end of August the workshop does not turn out as we expect, the experience will nevertheless provide important information for developing other forms of community outreach and arts education programming in the future. This conversation helped me to reconnect with one of my bigger hopes for the summer project—that is, to help change the often isolative culture of the research academy, albeit in small, incremental ways.