by Amy Luskey-Barth
I feel compelled as a theatre educator and former IB teacher to share some observations and thoughts about the value of attending ISTA festivals and IB World Conferences.
One of the aims of IB is to foster global citizens. Understanding cultural context is critically important for a student to begin to see the world from a perspective other than their own. The experience of travelling to a foreign country and meeting students from around the world is the best possible way for students to understand what it means to be a “citizen of the world.” Through the IB curriculum, these students are inherently breaking down barriers and embracing diversity. The philosophy of IB is to create future leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, and scientists who will be equipped to use their gifts and talents to make significant differences in the world. Through collaboration, they begin to learn how to build coalitions and capitalize on the strengths of the many. IB students learn how to ask the right questions. They learn that failure is not a bad thing. The only way to grow and push beyond the known is to sometimes stumble. The accidental discoveries lead to personal insight and great innovation. As Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day said,
“What you get wrong, the next person can get it right.”
This sense that we are all in it together – and that we are stronger when we stand together, may sound idealistic – but today, as I sat in the opening plenary, with students from around the world, I was thrilled that such idealism is being translated into concrete action.
Cynicism is deadly. It is unproductive. As Jeremy Gilley identified “cynics are a product of society.” But for just a moment think about the impact that cynicism has on youth. What message does the cynic send? What kind of world does the cynic say these young, bright, creative students are inheriting? A hopeless one? Cynicism is in many ways irresponsible because it is an argument for no possibility. And if you are a young person, how discouraging is that message? It’s deadly. IB does just the opposite of this. It says to students that the human potential to create, devise, problem solve, question, search, and solve is within them. IB says that as a life -long learner, this driving force to be explorers of yet to be discovered frontiers will continue to unfold and that they will be the ones to bring about big changes.
Teaching is a hopeful profession. To be an IB teacher is the best possible situation because of the underlying foundation of the entire program. IB students develop the skills and confidence to use their creative abilities and to employ them in every area of life. As a theatre educator, I see the implicit value in using story to communicate different perspectives. Storytelling is a basic human need. It is common among all cultures. When we hear one another’s stories, we understand. Artistic expression – whether it be visual art, dance, music, or theatre, can change the world.
Artistic Director, Pastoral Counselor, Producer, Director, Theatre Educator, Writer, Coach, Workshop Leader
Amy holds a Masters in Pastoral Counseling from Trinity College of Graduate Studies and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from USC. A veteran theatre director and teacher whose career spans over thirty years in educational theatre, Amy founded Tri-School Theatre for Servite, Connelly, and Rosary High Schools and served as Producing Artistic Director from 1988 – 2004. She served as Director of Educational Theatre for the Muckenthaler Cultural Center where she renovated the amphitheatre. Other positions have included Department Chair of Performing Arts at Rosary High School and Cornelia Connelly, California Advocate for the Arts for the Educational Theatre Association, & California State Board Member for the International Thespian Society. She was the recipient of the University of Notre Dame Great Teacher Award in 1996 and was named one of the Top 25 Teachers in Orange County by OC Parenting Magazine in 2015. She developed the Playworks Program for emerging playwrights for the California State Thespians. She has coached students for some of the premier college theatre programs around the country. Amy has served as Artistic Director at Santa Margarita Catholic High School since 2010. She is the Executive Artistic Director of Theatre On Purpose, a non-profit 501(c)3 Corporation that uses the arts as a means for self-discovery, cultural understanding, societal transformation and global citizenry. T.O.P. supports the Educational Theatre Community by providing a platform for high school and college students’ original work focused on social justice issues.
As a Pastoral Counselor specializing in grief and loss, Amy has taught memoir writing for the NOCCCD Older Adults Program and Cuesta College Community Programs. She conducts workshops through her private practice, Purple Sage Arts – integrating psychology, spirituality and the arts.