Prof. Raina Ames Receives Excellence in Teaching Award
Raina Ames is the theatre educator for theatre educators. Hundreds of students over more than a decade have benefitted from her hands-on approach in the accredited theatre education program she reimagined and now directs at UNH.
“My students learn best by doing,” says Prof. Ames, so she provides many opportunities for students to “do.”
They develop and perform plays for Artsreach and Little Red Wagon, the theatre department’s touring programs. They work with children in S.T.A.R.S., the day camp Prof. Ames created, which has become one of UNH’s largest summer offerings. They teach in area schools, such as last year’s workshops for special needs students at Dover Middle School. The series culminated in an original production featuring dinosaurs, Cinderella, a time machine and a dance party.
“I am most proud of the poise and self-assurance my students develop through these practical experiences,” says Prof. Ames, who is gratified to watch her students, in turn, inspire their own students. “I’m proud that they are spreading a legacy of arts education,” she says.
For several alumni, that legacy includes trying to live up to the high bar Prof. Ames set for teaching excellence. They cite her deep commitment to students’ individual development; her respect for difference; her ability to foster civil discourse; and her honesty, humor and big heart as characteristics they try to model in their own classrooms.
“More than anything,” one says, “I’ve learned from Prof. Ames to be a collaborator with the children that I teach, as that is the spirit of creating art.”