Volunteer Spotlight – Jill Watts

 |  Family Engagement Newsletter
What led you (as mother and daughter) to choose ASA for Audrey for High School?
As a young child Audrey always loved performing, so we enrolled her in a Valley Youth Theatre summer camp when she was 4-years old (we fudged her age – sorry Bobb Cooper! ) Growing up, she attended large, traditional public schools that offered a wide variety of activities and sports, but limited arts programming. When it came time to make a decision on which high school to attend, she knew she wanted to focus on theatre. It was important to us as parents that she attend an academically rigorous college-prep program as well, so we began to explore ASA. The more we learned about the unique, integrated curriculum and the quality of the arts instruction, we felt it would be the perfect place for her.
Share a couple of ways that ASA’s teachers and learning environment have augmented her social/emotional/mental growth.
The teachers at ASA are truly incredible. The cross-disciplinary learning approach, combined with the focus on critical thinking skills have prepared her well for college and real-world problem solving. ASA faculty teach students in ways that enable them to recognize, dissect, and analyze complex issues from across a spectrum of viewpoints. I work for a university, and I continue to be impressed with how well high school students coming out of ASA are able to express themselves and advocate for causes about which they are passionate.
As a commuter campus, we recognize the inherent challenges of finding parent connection. How did you come to get involved so deeply while working a very full, full time job?
The number one reason people volunteer is “because someone asked”! I was asked to help, and the more involved I became, the more I wanted to contribute to the success of our incredible students. It’s an honor to be able to serve this school, and I want to share that opportunity with my fellow parents. And there are so many cool parents at ASA! Next time someone asks you to volunteer, accept that gift and say yes!
As our volunteer Arts Advocate partnered with fellow parent, Lisa Christian, tell us your favorite part of supporting the ASA Theatre team and students?
Lisa Christian is the coolest! It has been so much fun working with her these past few years. My favorite part of supporting the Theatre Department is knowing that the volunteer contributions play a part (see what I did there? Lol) in the overall success of the productions. From providing meals, chaperoning, or working set and strike, it makes a huge difference – especially to our awesome faculty who are already putting in countless hours so our kids have these quality theatre experiences.
We are excited for Hay Fever opening this week! Share a little about what you are looking forward to in this production and Mary Poppins in Spring as the All School play…
I love that Hay Fever was chosen this year because it’s a different genre and really will be unlike anything else our students have done. Mary Poppins is such a big production, and it’s a great opportunity for students across all grades not only to perform together, but also to learn from one another.
Which theatre show have you enjoyed thus far in Audrey’s odyssey at ASA?
Surprisingly to me, the 2018 production of Antigone has been my favorite. I remember reading the play (and disliking it) when I was in high school. ASA’s production was really well done, and it was so striking to me to realize how relevant the themes still are today.
Do you think 3rd quarter presentations and her theatre work are interconnected?
Absolutely! For as much as I dread the complaining that goes on in my house during January and February, it’s so apparent that theatre training helps students with presentations. Extrapolate that to adult life—how often are we called upon to ‘perform’? Especially on topics that may not be of our choosing and definitely out of our comfort zone. But the ASA curriculum prepares students to communicate effectively while also thinking on their feet. Great life skills!
We are so grateful for your incredible organizational skills and time and resources given. With Audrey graduating this year, how might others follow your lead?
Find a way to say yes! We are all so busy and there are always excuses why we think we can’t help … But there are so many opportunities to volunteer and get involved. Commit to at least one of them and you’ll find you can’t wait to do more.
Any final reflections or items we are missing that you would like to share?
As parents, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the faculty and staff of ASA for their commitment to our children. They put their immense talents to good use everyday creating a truly special place for our students to grow and learn. It’s been such a joy being part of the ASA community!