Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Mr. Jason Knop Takes The Stage in The Classroom
by Kelsey Lauren
“Good Afternoon, Mr. Jason” scream the kids from the Milwaukee College Preparatory School’s Lloyd Street Campus as First Stage Lead Teacher Jason Knop enters the classroom. As Jason slowly walks around the room and decides who gets to join him on the multi-colored rug that will soon become the stage, the students try their hardest to be as respectful and quiet as they can be. Once all the students are settled on the rug, Jason begins his lesson.
Before Knop began teaching this lesson, it is essential to know Knop’s extensive experience with First Stage and in schools. Just as he was finalizing his B.A. in Theater Education from UW-Milwaukee, Knop began teaching for First Stage. He spent time teaching at Elm Creative Arts Elementary School and at Pius XI High School while earning his degree. He has been teaching for both First Stage’s Education department and Theater Academy since 2005. In the summer of 2010, he accepted the position as Academy Lead Teacher. He currently teaches in-school workshops, First Stage's Early Literacy Program, and Creative Drama classes for grades K4-4 at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield.
First Stage made an impression early on in his life. To this day he can still remember the first time he came to First Stage. It was to see James and the Giant Peach with his elementary school. From that point on and through his schooling he performed in plays and musicals and eventually completed his degree in Theater Education. One of the things he likes best about teaching theater is seeing how the students can change and grow and develop into more confident young people over the course of the classes he teaches.
Back at Milwaukee College Prep, Knop has arranged a lesson centered on the book “Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs.” His preparation consists of reading the book, and finding unique, artistic ways to get students to comprehend the story. Knop made certain prior to leaving the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center that he had all the props he could need to make his lesson go from great to excellent. With the book, “Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs,” one of the key themes in the story is being familiar with the basic elements of weather. Knop started his lesson with a brief set of questions. “What is a forecast? Who is a meteorologist and what do they do?” As the students answered the questions to the best of their knowledge, Knop lit up with excitement and enthusiasm. He began reading the book, and the kids were hooked into the story, as they knew all the big words that Knop covered prior to reading them. During certain points in the story he would put the book down and ask the most behaved students to help tell alternate versions of the story.
When the book was complete, and every student had participated in one way or another, Knop asked them to reward themselves by doing the “Good Job Cheer.” Every student knew the choreographed moves. Knop was so proud of them for a job well done!
He handed the authority over to the classroom teacher, and parted ways with the students, but only after telling them what a wonderful job they did.
A quote by Robert Frost was displayed in the classroom that read, “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Not once during the session did Jason get frustrated with how the kids responded to him, not once did he show a lack of charisma, and not once did he lose energy. Robert Frost’s quote proves true to Jason Knop. He has a promise to keep to the students all around the Milwaukee area, and he will not stop until he has done everything in his power to be the best First Stage Teaching Artist he can be.
Posted by Erica Davis