When she talks about theatre education, Diana Evans Vance likes to relate this story: “A man asks two stone cutters what they’re doing. The first stone cutter replies that he is cutting stone into large rectangular blocks. The second stone cutter says, ‘I’m a member of a team building a great cathedral!’ That story says it all,” Ms. Vance wrote. “Are we as teachers, particularly theatre teachers, simply teaching a particular lesson or producing a particular show, or are we members of a team making learning possible?”
Since 1975 Ms. Vance has been part of the team at Hilliard High School near Columbus, Ohio, teaching theatre and English. In 1994, she was named chair of the performing arts department. Students praise Ms. Vance for her interdisciplinary approach, which enables them to draw connections between subject areas. One young woman wrote, “Learning this broad spectrum helped us in many of our other classes. In English we studied vocabulary terms which we knew from Mrs. Vance’s teaching—for example, the Oedipus complex. What we learned also helped us in world history class because we had previously grasped many of the concepts regarding history as they relate to the evolution of theatre.”
Ms. Vance holds bachelor’s degrees in education and theatre, and a master’s in theatre, from Ohio State University She is an accomplished stage technician and carpenter. She has been a leader for EdTA in Ohio and a planner and host for numerous state Thespian conferences, while serving on the boards of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and the Hilliard Arts Council.
She says her greatest reward continues to be the artistic and intellectual growth of her students: “The thrill that a teacher and a director experiences when her students finally experience the feeling of ‘yes!’ is unequaled, and helping them reach that point is the most significant of all accomplishments. Theatre teachers have the rare privilege of providing this in very tangible and powerful ways.”