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Teaching Artist Spotlight: Kathryn Lodge

Kathryn Lodge is a 33-year-old Montgomery County native who is also a beloved Teaching Artist at ArtStream. Most recently she was the Assistant Director in Silver Spring B Theatre Company’s production of “Game Overboard,” which was her fifth production with ArtStream! After spending two years on Zoom, she was beyond excited to return to the stage with her Silver Spring B family. Her favorite role has been Aahvoid in “Once Upon a Time in Egypt.”

We chatted with Kathryn to learn more about her journey from volunteer mentor to Teaching Artist at ArtStream.

ArtStream: How did you get started with ArtStream?

Kathryn: I was at the Helen Hayes Awards in 2007. While on the dance floor, I ran into Heather Newhouse, who I went to school with in West Virginia. She was a stage manager for one of the Gaithersburg Companies. She ran up to me and was like, “I work for this amazing company. You have to come to my show.” I did and was blown away. A couple of months later, I called to see if I could start volunteering and it’s all uphill from there.

ArtStream: Do you have a theatre background?

Kathryn: I started doing theatre when I was seven and went on to do dinner theatre so I grew up in the dinner theatre world. I studied acting and playwriting in college for the first couple of years. I feel like I’ve always kind of dabbled in theatre.

ArtStream: What role do Teaching Artists play at ArtStream?

Kathryn: A Teaching Artist is someone who facilitates a class and meets people where they are. That’s a huge component of being an ArtStream Teaching Artist. We bring drama, storytelling, dance, and other areas of expertise to the classroom too. We try to perform our art out.

ArtStream: How do you prepare for a class?

Kathryn: It depends on the class. I do breathing exercises a lot to settle my nerves and mentally prepare to be open to everybody and receive all of their energy. You never know what they’re going to come with so you have to be prepared to accept everything and pivot. You might have a great lesson plan, but someone might have another great idea so you go along with that and support that growth. Being openminded and flexible is important. I’m also a planner. I plan all of my classes. There’s always a warm up and then we like to discuss things right out of the gate. We play games and have a lot of reflection and gratitude at the end.

ArtStream: What’s it like to collaborate with other Teaching Artists?

Kathryn: I started as an assistant and that’s where I like to be best. I tend to assist a lot of classes so in that position, I model behaviors and focus my energy on everybody else. I assist with Sandy a lot for dance classes for example. She’ll lead a whole class and if someone’s struggling or needs assistance, I tend to swoop in and help with that. Co-teaching is also something I love to do depending on the relationship you have with your co-teacher. Co-teaching involves a lot of communication and knowing that you have each other’s back makes you feel safe. When leading a class, your focus is more holistic.

ArtStream: How is has it been teaching online versus teaching in person during the pandemic?

Kathryn: It was a weird pivot. It’s really cool though because you can really see the changes in students. Some students focus more online because there are not as many distractions. I think online is also more individualized. I see a lot of growth online. Having classes virtually during the pandemic really saved a lot of us. I think building that community, having something to do and family to grow with was great. It’s more about people that care a lot about you and care a lot about your well-being and mental health and physical health. I think ArtStream did a really good job adapting and moving forward.

ArtStream: What is the most important takeaway you like to teach to your students?

Kathryn: That’s a good question. I would argue that I like to teach what I also want. So, building confidence and building skills that you really want and care about, through discipline that is rigorous and challenging.

ArtStream: Could you provide an example of something inspirational that happened while working at ArtStream?

Kathryn: So many. I think it’s really cool when you click with something that you’ve worked with for a long time. I’ve worked with some students for a year or two. Suddenly the growth is like magic. In one of the theatre companies, one actor in particular really just stepped up and got more lines and he crushed them. He did more dancing than ever before and was amazing. It was awesome to see him so confident.

ArtStream: What impact has ArtStream had on you professionally or personally?

Kathryn: I feel like I’m more comfortable with myself. I feel like I’ve found Teaching Artists and colleagues that feel like my family. There’s just such a wonderful copacetic relationship and friendship between everyone.

ArtStream: What is something that ArtStreams would be surprised to find out about you?

Kathryn: I’m an open book. I can make my own pasta. I learned in the pandemic, where I started taking classes from a nonna in Italy over Zoom.