Arts in Education Week: Ms. Ottolino

Connie JacksonArts, Faculty Spotlight, Spotlight, Theatre

Theatre teacher Andrea Ottolino welcomes the audience from stage.

More Than a Drama Teacher.

s. Andrea Ottolino is St. Luke's beloved theatre teacher. After arriving at St. Luke's just a few years ago, Ms. Ottolino has grown the theatre program into a thriving and essential part of St. Luke's culture. Students regularly compete in the state's Trumbauer Theatre Festival and sell out shows here on campus.

Learn more about Ms. Ottolino as we celebrate National Arts in Education Week.

St. Luke's: Describe yourself.
Andrea Ottolino: I am outgoing and love to be around people creating community. I look for the positive in situations and try to find ways to bring joy and peace to others and myself.

SL:   Discuss your prior history with fine and performing arts?
AO:   I have been performing since childhood through dance, theatre, and chorus. My undergraduate degree is in Theatre. I have worked with student theatre for the past 18 years in grades K4-12. I continue to perform in the community as part of The Chickasaw Community Comedy Players Improv group and you can sometimes catch me doing stand up comedy when I am feeling funny!

SL:   What led you to want to become a teacher in the fine or performing arts?
AO:   My fondest memories growing up revolved around my time on the stage. I loved the creative process of a performance and the people I encountered that helped me become the person I am today. I want to be that for my students.

SL:   Why should the fine and performing arts play a key role in a student’s education?
AO:   It is important to have a well rounded education that includes the arts. The arts should never be an afterthought in schools. It is through the arts that we learn about ourselves and how to express our ideas and feelings. This makes us human.

SL:   Do you collaborate with other departments within the school? If so, how?
AO:   Of course! Theatre needs people from all the arts to make it great. Music in the form of singing and instruments are essential for musicals and plays alike. Set design and painting bring it to life. I love working with our SLES Arts team to create new and exciting ways to make performances inclusive of all the arts.

SL:   How do you connect fine and performing arts to other subjects?
AO:   We use literature in the form of play reading. History must be studied to understand characters’ point of view and for costume and set design. Math is essential in set construction. We use science to create special effects. Art touches every aspect of education and can’t not be taught without the use of all the subjects.


SL:   How do you promote interest in fine and performing art classes with the student body?
AO:   I had a dream to get as many students involved in our first school musical. I chose a well known show and shamelessly asked, begged, and enticed different groups of students to play a role in the production. We were able to have both boys and girls varsity basketball players, the varsity cheerleaders, as well as a representative from each club (and all but one sport) as part of the cast and crew! Our school truly showed we were all in this together as they presented High School Musical.

SL:   What is your teaching method/philosophy?
AO:   I believe in making life long lovers and supporters of the arts. I know that most students will not have careers in the arts, but my hope is that they will continue to have arts as a part of their lives. I teach students to trust themselves and have confidence in trying new things. It is through the process of putting a production together that I teach skills the students will use for their lifetime. These skills include cooperation, leadership, speaking, organization, and creativity to name just a few.

SL:   How do students know they belong in your program/class?
AO:   They know that when they enter our theatre/class, they will be treated with respect and as part of a team (the students usually refer to it as a family). They can express themselves openly without fear of judgement. All interests are viewed as important and valuable whether it is working the sound equipment, backstage crew, or performing.

SL:   Describe the trajectory, vision, future, etc of St. Luke’s fine and performing arts program.
AO:   I have a vision with no limitations. We are a fast growing program that has excitement and support behind it. I would love to see all the students at St. Luke’s have an opportunity to be connected to one of the arts programs during their time on campus.

Thanks Ms. Ottolino for helping us celebrate National Arts in Education Week!