“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” ~Albert Einstein
Conventional wisdom tells us that all teachers have the potential to change the lives of students for the better, not only by dispensing information, but perhaps more importantly by being positive role models and helping to shape the adult that the student will one day become. And in spite of non-traditional settings, hectic schedules, and often high-profile students, studio teachers and on-set tutors possess that same potential to have a lasting influence on their charges.
One of the first things parents look at when considering traditional schools is the teacher-to-student ratio. Even if those numbers are ideal, children in district or conventional schools are taught by several teachers a day; elementary students tend to have fewer teachers with broader subject knowledge, but high schoolers can see as many as sevendifferent teachers daily, each with their own area of specialization. Just in terms of sheer numbers, it might seem impossible for a lone studio teacher to match the efforts of an entire team of traditional educators in making lasting connections with students.
Fear not! Studio teachers take a similar, yet scaled-down approach; the fewer the people, the better. The teacher/student ratio comes in at around 1:10, but the environment in which a child actor gets his/her education makes apples-to- apples comparisons to traditional schools challenging at best. One way we make a difference is in finding the right people for the job, matching the needs of the student to the teacher most qualified to fill those needs. As a general rule, On Location Education looks for educators who are certified in as many subject areas as possible, though additional instructors are sometimes required to cover more specialized high school subjects.
Credentials aside, on-set teachers should also be role models of respect for their students teaching by example the importance of playing nice with everyone involved with any given production and knowing that they are due the same respect in kind. Because, like it or not, a child actor with bad grades could bring the whole show to a grinding halt, regardless of how much money is on the line. Under California law, for example, studio teachers are also advocates for the general safety and welfare of their child actors and must be willing to stand up to an unhappy Spielberg or frustrated Cameron as needed. In situations like these, one could argue that studio teachers have greater opportunities than their traditional counterparts for making big impressions on their students.
So while they may not write the scripts, design the sets, or choreograph dances and fight scenes, studio teachers are integral to any film or show in which a child actor is cast. Their superpower? Bringing out the best in their students, which can positively affect the entire production.