BALLINGER — Ballinger High School has a new Theater Arts teacher who has experience in all forms of theater.
Jacob Scott graduated from Angelo State University in May with a degree in Theater Arts. He is a West Texas man, born in San Angelo and who grew up in Bronte before attending Angelo State. Scott is the son of a highly respected Bronte teacher, Carole Moore. Scott credits Moore, a single mother, with his success and has endless respect for her.
“If I could aspire to be anyone in the world, it would be my mother,” Scott said. “She’s just the greatest.”
Scott still seeks out his mom’s advice, including talking to her before accepting the position at the high school.
“I had to consult with mom because mom knows best,” Scott said.
Moore is known for helping students in whatever way they need it and that has rubbed off on Scott.
“We’re only two weeks into the school year and this is my first year as a teacher but I want the students to know that I’m here for them,” Scott said.
Scott has plans for the Theater Arts group that include competitions and local productions.
His mother coaches the Bronte girls’ volleyball team and finished second at state in her first year, 2016 and won the tournament last year in 2017, their first state title since 1991. Scott himself played sports in high school. He brings that competitive spirit to the Ballinger Theater Arts program but his approach is different than most.
“One word I hate is the word better,” Scott said. “There are a lot of words that we can use to spark a mature conversation. We shouldn’t compare one kid to another. One student may have more experience than another student but he or she isn’t ‘better.’ One person is not of more value than another person. In Theater Arts, we support each other. I want to develop confidence and character in our students. We also want to establish a sense of pride in oneself and empathy for others.”
Scott has received a great deal of support from the school and from others.
“I love the support that I’ve received at Ballinger High School,” Scott said. “I came here a few times in high school and have always respected Ballinger. It’s not just the administration that has supported me but also the other teachers here. They are kind and always willing to help me out if I need it. It’s a perfect place for me to enter the teaching profession.”
His experience in theater ranges from high school productions, to community theater, to his four years at ASU in various productions.
“Theater highlights the experiences of others in performances. A production should move the audience in one way or the other,” Scott said. “Anybody can write a play but there are a select few that can create a world. A performer can come off the stage physically and emotionally drained.”
Scott has vision and he hopes to realize his vision with the students in the program. “For some kids, this is their niche in life,” Scott said. “I can’t teach them to act. What I can teach them is how to explore methods but their creative thinking and their process is unique to the individual. I can give them a foundation and a starting point but then we explore what works best for each student.”
Scott’s approach supports the student and allows them to explore their creativity and to grow as actors.
“Celebrate your performance, regardless of the opinions of others,” Scott said. “You are never going to please everyone. Ninety-nine percent of the people can like your performance and one percent may not like it, but that’s OK. It’s OK. Putting yourself out there on that stage is terrifying. You bare your soul for all to see on that stage.”
The intimate understanding of theater arts doesn’t begin and end with the actors, “We need everyone. There is a role for every student whether as an actor, stage manager, costumer, prop person, or lighting technician. His philosophy for theater arts focuses on the students and the process of building them up with understanding and character.
“In this world, in this life, you will form opinions, beliefs and morals,” Scott said. “The times you feel you need to suppress your opinions or beliefs, you need to think about where you’re at in life and what it is that is causing you to want to suppress your opinions or beliefs. Everyone should be free to express their truth, but not everyone in the world is as accepting as we’d like them to be. Your opinion is important, it’s yours, you own it. Your opinion is not wrong and don’t infringe on some else’s opinion. We may not always understand them but they should be free to express themselves.”
To prove his point to his students, one of the first exercises he had them do was to list their top five favorite movies or television shows. No two lists were the same.
“But we explored their different opinions,” Scott said. “I want them to feel like Theater Arts is a place they can express themselves in a warm, caring environment. We give them a voice and I want them to have input.”
Scott’s approach is unique in many ways but his number one concern is for the students. He wants them to be successful and have a positive experience in Theater Arts.
Scott will have Theater Arts performing a musical comedy, “Into The Woods, Junior” for the fall production.
“It intertwines traditional fairy tales,” Scott said. “Our production will be a reduced version of this and will be about an hour long. There are parts for everybody, of all levels of experience. It’s a good first year project. I want the students and audience to see that we put on a high quality piece of work. We put our time and hearts into each production.”
They will also put on a one-act play later in the year and Scott has been learning the strengths of his students.
“I’ve already seen a lot of potential in the students,” Scott said.
He speaks to developing that potential in each individual student.
“The first thing we have to do is make the student feel comfortable in a professional manner,” Scott said. “We have to start a conversation and find out their interests and hobbies. We must establish a rapport and talk about things other than theater to find out their other interests.”
When he isn’t in the classroom or in the theater, Scott enjoys spending time with his own family and has a nine-year old nephew he adores.
“I just love our interactions,” Scott said. “I love spending time with him.”
He can also be found attending his mother’s volleyball team competitions.
The Theater Arts has a new director, and fortunately for them he takes after his mother.