Mona Estrada, Theater Teacher, Manhattan Middle SchoolTeaches Theatre in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and celebrates differences
Mona was nominated by Barb Miller, Teacher-Librarian at Manhattan, who said: Miss Mona has been teaching for over 20 years and she is indeed a Master Teacher. She is the head Theatre teacher at Manhattan Middle School of Arts & Academics. She is revolutionizing how Theatre is taught. Rather than using the historical theater model where only a few students get the lead roles, while the vast majority of the students have minor roles, Mona firmly believes EVERYONE is equal on stage. She recently had her students perform a play where all the parts were equal and there were 64 parts! Mona goes farther than any theatre teacher I've ever encountered. She NEVER says no to admitting a student to her class and commonly has classes of 35-45 students. Mona believes in equity and inclusivity. She doesn't merely tolerate differences, she CELEBRATES them. She really "walks her talk" -- she has students from the ILC (Intensive Learning Center) in her classes. These are students with severe and profound physical and mental learning challenges. Yet these students are welcomed as a vital part of Mona's classroom. As an example, she has a student who doesn't really talk, but he's happy to be up on stage and acting with the other kids. They accept him as a normal part of their class. This is all due to Mona's strong belief that everyone is a valued part of the class. Instead of a few stars and many underlings, everyone is a star in Miss Mona's classes.