Class Acts: A Q&A With Dawn Davis

Lori Mast nominated Dawn Davis for Class Acts. Mast said Davis is able to get incredible effort out of all her drama students to perform two amazing performances every year. Davis chooses each play to fit the assortment of students she has in her class.

Name: Dawn Davis

Age: 42

City of Residence: Turlock

Occupation: Speech and drama director at Turlock Christian High School

Family: Married almost 23 years to Eric Davis. Three children: Whitney, 21, Lindy, 19, and Eli, 17.

Background: Graduated from Turlock Christian High School. After graduation, she went to college to be a nurse. The day after finishing her training, she had her first child and never returned to nursing. After a move to Southern California in 1993, she began acting in a drama troupe for "Turning Point," the broadcast ministry of Dr. David Jeremiah. She returned to Turlock when her husband accepted a job as principal of Turlock Christian High School. She was then asked to begin a drama program there.

What is your favorite part about being a teacher? It's never boring! Every day, and every student is completely different from day to day. I love the challenge of coming up with ways to get students to engage and connect with what I am teaching.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Hauling stuff. We are nomadic, using different stages around town, so we are constantly moving sound and light equipment, sets, curtains, props, costumes, seemingly every week. It's exhausting. And my classroom, car and living room never seem to get completely unpacked from one show before the next one begins.

Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: A video camera. I have the students watch video of themselves as often as possible, especially during speeches. Our own perception of our performance is very different from an audience's perspective.

What's next in your classroom? We just finished casting for our spring production and began learning the script this week. We are combining two shorter scripts, "The Dalton Gang" and "Snapshots & Portraits," for a full-length show.

Advice for new teachers: Choose one thing to be excellent at during your first year. Then each year after, add one new thing in which to excel. The favorite teachers of your past are probably remembered because of only one or two attributes, lessons or strengths that impacted you ... and it won't be because they tried to be the "cool" teacher. Don't talk about yourself too much. Ask about the kids instead and let them do the talking. And finally, always expect that students can produce excellence, and they will.

Advice for students: If you feel you are too shy or quiet to speak or perform in front of an audience, think again. Some of my most talented actors have been the quiet ones. Why? Because they go through life watching and listening to people and quietly studying them. So they are better prepared to replicate different human behaviors and emotions. There is also a sense of safety in performing as a character. You are truly able to express with abandon, because it is not really "you" that is on stage.