In this episode I speak with Estella Owoimaha-Church. Estella teaches in Los Angeles and is the daughter of two migrants to the US. Difficult circumstances growing up meant she had to help raise her siblings while still pursuing high school education. Estella now teaches in order to leave the world a better place than she found it. She credits her own teachers with her success. Presently, she serves as theatre director, district theatre course lead, academy leader, and English teacher in her school. Hired to rebuild a languishing theatre program, Estella has turned around a department that suffered low participation, student apathy and low graduation rates. In just two years, the students have produced four main-stage productions, competed in four state competitions, and attended at least three industry and leadership conferences. Reading and writing skills have improved, with half of students having a lexile increase of 25+ points. In theatre, Estella has regularly implemented conflict resolution strategies, including circle discussions. With added training in restorative justice, she has been able to improve conversations among students in a way that allows them to develop listening and speaking skills, resolve conflicts, and understand the importance of community. Developing empathy is a key objective for Estella’s teaching.
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