Palm Beach Daily News
January 3, 2017
Robert Sherman , director of Rosarian AcademyÕs theater arts program, always wanted to be a teacher, but after a while, he left teaching to become an actor. He tried juggling the two careers for a while, acting while pursuing his masterÕs degree in education.
He was directing shows at the University School in Davie while studying acting at the Players State Theatre Conservatory in Miami. But then, one day 17 years ago, he learned that Rosarian needed a social studies and drama teacher.
ÒIt was time to give back,Ó he said. ÒAnd the rest, as they say, is history.Ó
ShermanÕs ambitious performing arts program at Rosarian involves many members of the school community, students and staff. His program has sent students on to prestigious college acting programs. We spent a few minutes catching up with him.
RosarianÕs productions are more ambitious than many middle-school programs might attempt. Do you feel youÕre a little over your head sometimes?
We always try to up the ante, if you will. There is an amazing team (here) to collaborate with. [Choreographer] Jeanne Bennett was in the first national tour of Les Miz, [music/choir teacher] Gay Dedo is one of the great accompanists anywhere, Neel Shukla on percussion is a studio musician and helps us coordinate pit musicians, as we did last year with Grease. This year, we have added a technical theater component to our Theatre III class taught by professional scenic and lighting designer Sage Neighbors and Dean Landhuis. Additionally, [music/debate teacher] W. Myngoe Brashears completes our music classes with expertise in vocal performance and interpretation.
What does a robust arts program add to elementary and middle-school studentsÕ educations?
ThatÕs easy. Experiences in the arts nurture imagination and creativity. It develops confidence and enhances analytical and critical thinking, and there is a joy in performance; hearing the sound of the applause makes all of the hard work and the commitment of students and their parents worthwhile.
Like the line in the musical Applause says: ÒWhat is it that weÕre living for? Applause, Applause,Ó right?
Rosarian has a long history in support of the arts. Years ago, Perry Como performed here and previous arts educators produced Broadway shows. Over the years I have been here, the parents see the work we do; the professional experiences (from all of our backgrounds) that we bring to the children give them an extra advantage, whether it is to pursue the arts further or make a presentation to a class or group. The arts share much with team athletics: cooperation and collaboration to complete a goal.
Tell me about some of your programÕs bigger success stories.
Alec Ruiz is a theater major at Florida State and Cayley Costello is a theater major at the University of Michigan. These are two of the top theater programs in the United States, and admission is by a very competitive audition process. AlecÕs father always says theater changed the direction of not only their sonÕs life, but [also] the whole family.
Mini-golf art project Ñ More than 100 Oxbridge Academy students are collaborating on a long-term, project-based learning program funded by the Innovation Grants Program.
The project brings students in several classes together to create a nine-hole miniature golf course that also functions as a kinetic-art installation.
In the projectÕs initial phase, geometry students mastered core geometry concepts and methods for calculation, and seven classes formed groups and drafted blueprint proposals for the design of each of the golf course holes. In the second phase, woodworking students built mini-golf course platforms. Phase three includes woodworking students building obstacles on the course.
The mixed-media sculpture class will apply lessons learned about basic kinetic sculpture and mixed-media techniques to incorporate the final kinetic-surface elements for each of the holes. They also will work with the material science class.
Once completed, the mini-golf course will be presented at several community events in February, including the 2017 Boynton Beach Kinetic Art Symposium, the Resource Depot, as well as on campus at Oxbridge.