After two years in the Penn Fellowship Program, theater teacher Ms. Katie Speed is leaving Deerfield. She spent the last two years pursuing her passions: teaching, acting, and improvising.
Ms. Speed was initially looking for any theater teaching job, but her first impression of Deerfield made a lasting impact, which ultimately influenced her decision. “On my interview day, I remember meeting students and being so blown away by how thoughtful Deerfield students are,” she said. “It was the Deerfield students that made me want to work here.”
While working at Deerfield, Ms. Speed has mostly taught Acting II classes as well as other spring electives such as Speak The Speech, a Shakespeare inspired class, and an improvisation class. She also works with Ms. Hynds on the Advanced Acting Tutorial class in the spring term.
“Ms. Speed has helped me enormously.” Ms. Hynds said. “It’s been really interesting and useful to bounce ideas off of her.”
Ms. Speed directed the 2015 spring play Metamorphosis, as well as Cabaret this winter. She also has been the assistant director of multiple plays and performances. She is currently directing the Spring production, Words, Words, (and More) Words: A Festival of Comedic One Acts.
Abby Lupi ’18, who took part in Cabaret, stated that “Ms. Speed contributed a lot to the aesthetic of Cabaret, particularly to our gestural nuances, really improving the overall atmosphere of the show.”
While at Deerfield, Ms. Speed has found a new appreciation for the value of collaboration among different mediums. Ms. Speed stated, “I’ve always believed that theater is a subject that is the marriage of a couple of things: visual arts, music, technology, and actual acting… Here, I was able to learn how valuable it can be to have a professional who’s the expert on this thing… add to my ideas or create new ideas that make my ideas better.”
Ms. Speed found that a valuable part of her Deerfield career has been reconsidering the relationship between teacher and student. She said, “It’s been really eye-opening for me in terms of viewing teaching as an influence of an adult on all aspects of a student, not just their academics.”
After Deerfield, Ms. Speed plans to work at the UP Academy Oliver Middle School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The school is strictly English and math focused, and the arrival of Ms. Speed will bring about a new arts program. “The school decided that they would like to create an arts program to get more kids excited about learning, and theater is the art form they wanted to focus on. I’m going to be creating their theater program,” Ms. Speed explained.
“It’s absolutely right that Ms. Speed is going to a school that really feeds her philosophical approach to teaching theater,” said Ms. Hynds.
As for looking back, Ms. Speed reflected on what she will miss the most: “Students here are really empowered to start their own projects and they feel supported enough by the faculty to want to do those things. They actually go out and do it. I’ll miss the tenacity and can-do attitude of the typical Deerfield student.”
As much as Ms. Speed will cherish her experience at Deerfield, her companionship will also be missed in the theater and acting department. Ms. Hynds stated, “I will miss her energy and miss having someone that understands how intense it is to be in rehearsal day in and day out, term in and term out… She’s much needed.”