Bobby Glenn Smith describes his most important role in theatre education as being “a FAN,” or facilitator, advocate, and networker.
He has facilitated the development of curriculum, assessment, professional development workshops, and conferences for theatre education. As an advocate, he has been instrumental in getting theatre and dance education added to Alabama’s arts education framework, including theatre content standards at each grade level and arts education as a high school graduation requirement. Smith has promoted teacher certification standards that would provide the state’s colleges and universities opportunities to develop teacher education programs in theatre and supply local school systems with certified theatre teachers. Networking has enabled Smith to have a broader perspective of theatre education, establish professional relationships, and gather resources that he can draw upon for inspiration. His network includes the Educational Theatre Association, National Association of Supervisors of State School Arts Programs, National Association of State Supervisors of Music Education, National Art Education Association, and the Music Educators National Conference, all of which he is a member.
Mr. Smith’s opportunities to network remind him of why he began his teaching career: “Theatre education is the window to the world. The schoolhouse’s traditional curriculum is so confining to a student, thwarting creativity, sensitivity, and self-confidence. Theatre education offers so many opportunities for students to grow emotionally, physically, spiritually, to expand their horizons beyond their immediate environments, to experience new lives and to walk the tightrope of life with the stage as the safety net. They develop the lifelong learning skills necessary for success in any career field. And they learn about caring and loving and supporting, and building pride in their work. That is why I am so avid about theatre education being the focal point in the educational lives of children.”
Mr. Smith’s work has been recognized by the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama Art Education Association, and most recently he received the Alabama Governor’s Arts Award. A colleague summarized Smith’s contributions to the field: “Dr. Smith has remained a voice for all fine arts education throughout the state. He remains a true friend of theatre education, exercising daily the mission of the Educational Theatre Association: to promote and strengthen theatre arts education. He has encouraged theatre arts for all students, in all grades, in all schools throughout Alabama. It is through his many years of ‘pioneering’ that young students in Alabama will continue to become Thespians in even greater numbers!”