This blog post is a transcript of an interview with a builder at New Circle named Ted.

 

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What do you do for a living?

I teach seventh and eighth grade language arts at Saint Monica Catholic School, and I run their theatre program. I also co-own a theatre company.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

I like the conversations that I have. The students are not too little, but they’re not too grown up. They’re at that perfect age where—and this may bounce cliché—you can sort of mold their minds. I can have great conversations with them about books and about life. I can read a book a hundred times and get a new perspective on a piece of literature from them, even if it’s just in one class. If I have a class of just twenty kids, then I have twenty different perspectives right there.

Also, being in my eighth year at St. Monica, I’ve known these families for a long time. I’ve built some strong relationships since I’m on sibling number two, three, or four in some families.

You haven’t been a part of the theatre company as long as you’ve been a part of Saint Monica, but I’d like to pose the same question. What’s your favorite part of co-owning a theatre company?

It’s actually very similar. Whereas with my eighth graders I’m seeing these books come to life, with the people we cast and the people who work on our plays, we get to see an entire play or musical come to life.

Also, we’ve met so many new people and made so many new friends—from all over—through this theatre company. We’ve got repeats. We’ve got new people.

Do you guys try and pick your plays in a more message-oriented sense, or are your selections more sporadic?

It’s a bit of a variety. We obviously want to do plays that we like, and we want to do different types of plays. For Instance, we just did Shakespeare, which was a huge challenge—in a good way, but in all our shows, we try not to be comfortable. We try not to settle. We don’t want to just be satisfied with doing one type of play or musical.

What’s your favorite play?

Arsenic and Old Lace. I’ve always loved it. I loved the movie since my dad showed it to me when I was in middle school, so I’ve always wanted to do it. When we finally got the chance, we built an entire living room—I still brag about that set to people. It was a pain to put together, but it turned out so well. 

Romeo and Juliet is my favorite Shakespeare, though. 

Why Romeo and Juliet?

It’s my favorite Shakespeare—and I love West Side Story. West Side Story is the musical adaptation of Romeo an Juliet, and I love it. What’s great about Shakespeare is you can make it your own. You can modernize it, especially with Romeo and Juliet. You can set it in any time period and it works. I saw a version where Juliet’s family was black and Romeo’s family was white, and it still worked because that’s where the tension came in. The two families were opposite races in the fifties.

With teaching and the theatre company being such a huge part of your life, have you seen God move in either (or both) parts of your life?

Absolutely. I’m at Saint Monica because of God. 

It’s a bit of a long story. First off, all of my siblings are adopted from China, so my mom was really into the blogging world and was connected to adopted families all over the country. The summer after I graduated college, I just kept getting rejection after rejection after rejection. I started looking elsewhere other than teaching. No one was hiring me because I didn’t have enough experience since I did just graduate. Well, my mom had written a blog post about me needing a job. There was a couple that traveled with my family to China to get my brother Philip, and the wife had just been looking at that blog post while a group of my friends were praying over my job situation. She was a teacher at Saint Monica. Catholic School. I get a call from her the next day from her. She says, “I know your degree is in middle school English, but I need an assistant for my preschool class.” I kind of hesitated, but when I found out that she was reading my mom’s blog post at the same time that people were praying over me, I couldn’t ignore it. Normally, I would say no to being a preschool teaching assistant, but I took it as a sign, and I’m now in my eighth year at Saint Monica.

I get to see the transformations in a kid who hates school who, by the end of the year, is reading Animal Farm. To me, God is transforming this kids. Whether they know it or not, God is molding them.

God has placed some incredible people in my life. People are very important to me. I’m very much a people person, so the relationships that I’ve built at Saint Monica are definitely thanks to God. I know it has

The same with the theatre company. We’re not a “Christian company,” but the way that we treat people and interact with them as actors is rooted in who we are as Christians.