This story is one in a series of stories about educators who were chosen Teacher of the Year for their respective schools. Teachers are representing schools from both the Deer Creek and Edmond school districts.
The best part about being a drama teacher/director is watching the overall product come together at the end.
This is what Heartland Middle School’s 2019 Teacher of the year, Marisa Skube, had to say of her teaching assignment.
Before coming to Heartland, she taught at Charles Haskell Elementary for 10 years and Frontier Elementary for two years.
“I taught 4th grade math and science at both of those schools.
She has taught Drama to 6th-8th graders for four years.
She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Oklahoma.
“As the only female football coach in the district and the intrepid leader of the Drama department, Ms. Skube directs students toward their own greatness,” said James Keeton, Heartland’s principal. “Now in her 16th year in education, Ms. Skube is passionate about bringing students safely out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to attempt things they thought they would never do.”
Keeton added that she is a role model for students, showing them that they don’t have to “fit the mold” and they can go out and try something new like coaching or acting.
“You take the small pieces of a production — characters, emotion behind the words, music and choreography, etc. — and you have them practice and perfect them day in and day out,” Skube said.
“You see the growth and the determination of the students. You put your heart and soul into the costumes and set pieces for the kids, because you want to make it a special experience for them. But nothing prepares you for that moment when you see how proud the students (and their parents) are of that end performance, and the understanding that they accomplished something greater than themselves through hard work together. It is a beautiful moment.”
Skube said drama isn’t just about acting.
“It’s about gaining the confidence to get up in front of others, whether in small groups or large crowds,” she said. “It’s about learning how to interact with each other in a world where we hide behind technology. It prepares students for the real world.”
She said that preparation comes in the following forms:
• Speaking in front of others/communication;
• Giving and receiving receive constructive criticism;
• Channeling feelings/emotions and expressing them in a controlled setting;
• Working collaboratively toward a common goal; and
• Teaching them to be present in the moment (active listening).
She said every student has something in which they are passionate.
“As an elective teacher, my job is to help fuel their passion,” Skube said. “If that passion is drama, I want to give them the tools they need to be successful at it. If it isn't drama, then I can share the part of theatre that is useful in real life, and guide them to something that they are passionate about.”
Skube received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Oklahoma.
“I took a leave of absence after my 10th year of teaching to go back to school at the University of Central Oklahoma to take classes to get certified to teach drama,” Skube said. “I went back into the elementary classroom until a drama position opened up.
“I grew up in Edmond; I graduated from Santa Fe in 1998, so Edmond is home,” Skube said.
She teaches 8th grade Musical Productions, 8th grade Drama, two 6th grade Drama classes, 7th grade Musical Production, and 7th grade Drama.
Several teachers were a positive influence on Skube, and she said they made going to school worth it. She also said she had a year with a teacher who was hard and made wanting to go to school difficult.
“I wanted to make sure no student had to endure that type of year the way I had,” Skube said.
The Heartland Teacher of the Year said she hopes to teach her students to never stop trying new things that they may enjoy, even as an adult.
“I didn’t try theatre until I was almost 30, and look where I am today ... teaching it! Dreams change, passions change,” Skube said. “You can’t be afraid to try.”
In addition to teaching drama, Skube also is a football coach at Heartland.
“Students want to know they have a place to belong during the school day,” Skube said. “Some have athletics, some have performing arts, some have art, technology, etc. Having that place and feeling safe/comfortable there does wonders for behavior and overall academic success.”
Skube has two daughters: Kalyn, a sophomore at North High School; and Londyn, a sixth grader at Sequoyah Middle School.
In her spare time she enjoys performing or watching other theater performances. She also likes to decorate cakes.