Great Teachers Need the Freedom to Teach

In 2011, my comedienne friend Karen Sklaire asked me to critique the first-draft of a one-woman show she was writing, regarding her teaching experiences in the Bronx. This began a coaching involvement that evolved into an award-winning production, ultimately called Ripple of Hope.

The heart of this production is the poignant story of a young African-American boy, who Karen helps transform from a bully into the star of a show in which he imitated Michael Jackson. The show had the added success of bringing together the boy’s broken family.

When Karen left that post, many of her students wanted to become her Facebook friends.

During these past six years, I, also, followed Karen’s musical productions at a school in the heart of Manhattan’s Asian community. These multi-racial shows were a pure joy, as demonstrated in the smiles of parents and the glowing coverage in the Chinese newspapers.

Having witnessed Karen’s work with children of all colors and creeds, I was dismayed that Karen was accused of racism by some who chose to deliberately misinterpret some of her theatrical productions.

It would be a shame if the reputation of a woman who has devoted her career to foster racial understanding were to be damaged by those pretending not to know the difference between a performance and one’s personal actions.

Great teachers take risks. When teachers stop taking risks, we all lose.