Flexibility- It’s not just good for gymnastics: A Message from Dr. Newman

When my children were young the very best thing about my private practice and working for myself was the flexibility it provided for me to schedule around my family priorities and arrange time the way I needed it to be in order to best meet everyone’s needs. Surprising to some people, the pay wasn’t so much more, and there were many more benefits for things such as sick leave, vacation pay, etc. in working for a school district or hospital but for me, flexibility was the most valuable characteristic of any job I could have. It allowed me input to determine my own priorities and help to decide how to make them happen. I considered flexibility a blessing and a gift.  

RESPECT programming is built upon the premise that flexibility is important in working with schools and students. No group of students or staff of teachers are the same. All school communities are unique. Their strengths and concerns are different. 

As a special education teacher and school psychologist I have sat on teams with others for decades (wow!) I know how important it is to work to individualize programs and plans for students and classrooms. I know how important it is to listen to the professionals who know the students best and work with them all the time. By listening, caring, sharing, working flexibly and together, we make the best plans and interventions for students.

RESPECT does this at all levels. We can share a menu of programs or plays and have teachers read them and request adjustments in scripts or ask for specific discussions or role plays for follow up components. Or ask for more personal involvement at any point from beginning to end.

RESPECT offers workshops that are entirely about getting kids up and on stage to do role plays – all of which can be teacher or counselor or student driven! Or, guided and supported by our own staff. With COVID 19 we have made these possible in small groups, via distance learning and through many electronic platforms. 

Artist in Residence programs, Multi-week sessions of workshops – all are flexible to topic, time, evaluation, creative input, mental health concerns and more.

If there is a way to use theatre – a play, role play, theatre game – to build respect in relationships among others and within individual students – we are willing to be flexible and work collaboratively to give it a try!

It’s a nice way to work together. And, it reinforces what we discuss with the kids. There are a lot of different ways to reach similar outcomes. It can be fun to try and experience new ways to do things. There is not only one right way to reach most goals. Flexibility allows individuals to have some control over their own choices and what they do – to make things happen! This is truly an empowering experience.

RESPECT has always worked to be flexible and help to individualize our work with our audiences. Because theatre is perfect for that and relationships are as unique as the people that they represent. This last year has required us to be even more flexible, and while we aren’t (yet?) presenting in gymnasiums – our flexibility on stage is more exciting than ever before!