A partnership between the Florida Grand Opera and Miami-Dade County Public Schools helps teachers like Evelyn Roman bring theater to the classroom.
Roman, a 9th- and 10th-grade language arts teacher at Barbara Goleman Senior High School, attended a workshop that took place in Doral on Sept. 26 to learn more about the topic.
“I love the opera, and I was hoping to learn something here so that I can incorporate it in my language arts class with their readings, and I could teach them something about the culture,” she said.
It was her first time attending the event, and she said she was impressed by the amount of information discussed.
Three experts addressed several teachers from Miami-Dade schools on different topics about the opera so they can incorporate the topics into their curriculum.
“These professional developments that teachers experience so that they can then go out and share that with the students, that’s been the biggest mission of Florida Grand Opera,” said Cerise Sutton, FGO’s director of education. “It’s to become a cultural resource to the community, whether it’s the school community or Miami-Dade County and families.”
While Roman plans to take the lessons she learned at the workshop to her language arts classroom, other teachers plan to take their notes directly to a music setting.
John McMinn, a music teacher at Miami Central High School, hopes to apply his lessons accordingly.
“I want to take my experiences learning the opera; I need them to know about all the other things in music, all the other fascinating styles and concepts and kinds of music,” McMinn said. “I want them to learn the technique of singing without a microphone and using their voice as a complete instrument; that’s what my students need to do.”
With help from funding received through grants, corporations and donors, FGO is able to provide all of its resources to Miami-Dade County schools free of charge. According to Sutton, FGO collects $140,000 each year to help provide resources for public schools.
“With budget cuts going on in schools, especially within the arts, more and more teachers are looking to us to fill that gap,” said Sutton, who has been working at FGO for three years.
In addition to providing workshops for the schools, FGO compiles study guides for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum and provides students throughout the county with tickets to dress rehearsals for each season’s performance.
This season, the dress rehearsal for La Bohème will take place on Nov. 15, two days before the event’s opening on Nov. 17. Nearly 1,200 middle and high school students from public schools in the county will receive tickets to the event, which will take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
Bryan Petorak, currently the district supervisor for performing arts for Miami-Dade schools, was recently promoted to the post after serving as a teacher for nine years at performing-arts magnet schools.
“At my new job, I have a chance to see what community partners we have and get more resources for the schools,” he said.
Petorak, who has a background in singing opera and often sings with FGO, hopes to raise awareness of the art form among students.