"People come back saying ... 'I went into law because I really like being up in front of people and arguing the point.' That's how you know you made a difference in the life of a child." - Theater teacher Kevin Schneider
At first glance, theater and speech teacher Kevin Schneider's job might seem to begin and end with exposing students to the intricacies of Shakespearian language and the mechanics of stage design.
Instead, his real job is teaching students the skills they need to go far beyond the stages and hallways of Holland High School. Each year, hundreds of students in Holland benefit from the emphasis the district places on the performing arts, despite facing budget challenges that occasionally threaten its continued existence.
Former students tell him that their involvement in speech and theater classes and competitions "changed their life," Kevin said. "People come back saying ... 'I went into law because I really like being up in front of people and arguing the point.' That's how you know you made a difference in the life of a child."
But even more than theatrical skills, Schneider works diligently to instill confidence in students across the age spectrum and teaches them to work hard and expand their horizons.
"There's a lot of discipline involved in the theater," said student Geneva Dischinger-Smedes. "It helps with knowing how to react with other people, knowing how to bond with other people, connect with people that you may not connect with."
Added Kevin: "It may be the only thing we have in our school that actually melds all the different social groups into one group."
Kevin's tireless dedication shows in the time he spends at after-school rehearsals and weekend speech competitions. For him, it's not just about teaching how to deliver a line well, but how to grow and become more self-aware as they work to become responsible adults of the 21st century. The veteran teacher said he enjoys watching his students evolve and develop.
"He sees that we all have the ability to be really good. And he pushes us to that," said student Dylan Kerfoot. "It's a privilege to be involved in theater here."