"The basic right of all human beings is the right to choose what to learn and think." ~John Holt

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Volunteer Experience~

This past week my daughters and I volunteered at Ocala Civic Theater. It started out to be something that we anticipated would be a wonderful lesson and a positive experience, but unfortunately we ended our weekend with a sour taste in our mouths.

First, I would like to point out that we started our adventure in a Board Meeting. The room was filled with tension and stress. Basically what we learned there, which should have been a foreshadowing of our next three days, was that the theater is not just a fun and exciting place to learn for passionate kids and adults, but a place that is full of cliques and political bullying from people who are burnt out and frustrated.  $$

Without explaining in great details about each day, I will say that for the most part Autumn and Chloe had a nice time. We took a special liking to a teacher/volunteer named Jeff Sensat. Jeff made us feel welcome and part of the crowd! We had a wonderful experience talking with him after the board meeting on our first visit to the theater. He took us behind the scenes of the stage and made us feel special. I also volunteered  during the week. For three afternoons I helped paint the Footloose set with two men who work for the theater and several older men who volunteer their time to help create and construct the actual sets. Super nice folks and I am glad I had the pleasure of working with them.

The issue that caused our sadness and frustration began on Friday when we were asked by one of the teachers, whom Autumn had worked with all week, to come out on Sunday and observe and hopefully gain a volunteer spot behind the scenes of the play,  Footloose.  She had taken a liking to Autumn and had expressed her gratitude in families that allowed their children to evolve into people naturally without stress or personal persuasion. We  have great admiration for this particular teacher, we only wish she could have kept her word and showed up on Sunday like she had promised. We NEVER would have gone on Sunday if we had not been invited. But even without her presence on Sunday, the below situation should never have happened.

We showed up at the theater promptly at 2pm:

While sitting in the theater observing pictures being taken by the local news paper and talking with the light tech, my daughter Autumn approached me choking back tears telling me that we needed to leave.  She said that the stage manager had approached her and was nice, but explained that she had enough help with the rehearsal and that Autumn could leave.  Can you imagine?   The stage manager of the play is only 17 years old, very sweet, and I know that the direction of this comment did not originate from this young girl. It was from the director of the play, an adult who should have more compassion and love for someones feelings and dedication.  Autumn wasn't in the way, she was observing......and at that moment her spirit was robbed. This particular individual had observed Autumn volunteering all week and not that this means anything, but also myself, so she knew who we were, not strangers to the set.  How mean can someone be? One extra person for one day observing and learning........Sad, sad, sad.

Shame on you..... Mrs. Director!


Christine said...

I'm so sorry that you had this experience! Hugs for Autumn and for you.

Carey said...


Anonymous said...

As awful as it was, it is a great teaching point for the differences between US & Them. We don't always want to see it that way, but many of Them do. They often behave in these ways without ever knowing how wrong it is. They are a product of their environment, their indoctrination. We, as homeschoolers/unschoolers ARE different. Some of the Them don't like that because it's not in their norm & that scares them because they are full of irrational thinking & incapable of critical thinking.

It's unfortunate that she was mistreated by these people...and probably enough that people have their cliques & office politic garbage hanging out everywhere, but try to focus on the positives in your children's hard work. Life is full of these disappointments. They will be better off learning now not to take the flaws of others onto themselves.

Josh said...

As unfortunate as this is, I personally know the director and this is very unlike her, AND the stage manager. However, the director was under a lot of stress, and while this is not a very good excuse, I would like to continue before you rule out my argument.

Oftentimes at OCT, a teacher will ask somebody to come help with something because they know the person will enjoy it, but then forget to tell the director. We are all human, and mistakes will be made. It is part of the fact that we are not perfect.

Along with the director stressing over the show, and the classes, as well as dealing with this stressful board meeting, she had to make the hard decision to move. There was a considerable amount of pressure put on the director from that decision alone. I had the opportunity to speak with her at one of the shows, and it was showing on her face and how she held herself that she was tired.

In conclusion, the director had no idea what was happening, was stressed because of work, and because of her own personal life. I talked to her yesterday on Facebook and they are still trying to get settled in Texas where they have been all week. So please, don't pass judgement on somebody before you know ALL the details.

I would like to make one final comment in response to a previous comment: OCT is very accepting to people from all schools. I myself was home schooled up until last year when I entered High School. I was always very accepted there and know many other children from age 4 to age 14 who are "unschooled" as you put it (I like the name, just so you know), and are very active at the theater and are always welcome. It is unfortunate what happened, and please, allow my to give my condolences to you for what happened, however, it does not happen very often.

Thank you.

~Kimberly said...


Thank you very much for your comment. It means the world to me to know that you care.

The stage manager was a sweet girl, and my daughter and myself did not have an issue with her personally. She was doing her job under the guidance of Mandy.

I have nothing more to add about Mandy. Her actions spoke louder then any words that were said the entire week.

As far as Jeff, he is the best!

I wish her peace and happiness and a bright future.

Take care,


tim said...

Hi Kimberly. I am the set designer of "Footloose" and one of the people who worked with you painting. I just found this post. I don't know what transpired that day but I do know we enjoyed having you and your daughters here. There is no us/them as suggested in an earlier post. We are a community theatre that serves all. Please feel free to contact me and perhaps give us a second chance. There will be a lot of activity going on wgen we start production of King and I, and I assure you we will have a fun time. Tim Dygert, Production Manager.