At Sawyer we have the privilege of working with hundreds of inspiring educators around the country. Whether they teach virtual classes or in-person activities, the curricula always foster enriching atmospheres for children of all ages to discover their love of learning. We got the opportunity to chat with Katie O'Grady, the founder of Acting for Kids & Teens, which offers youth acting classes for TV and film to children in Portland, OR.

Photo of Acting for Kids & Teens

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! I’d love to hear a bit more about you and why you started your business.

I started my business when my own daughter wanted to be an actor. As a working actor, I just didn’t see the practical, everyday training that young actors need to WORK in the business of acting. She inspired me to start my own class.

Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?

There have been countless moments where time stood still but one in particular comes to mind. A young actress had a line about how beautiful she thought she was inside and out and my little student refused to say it. She said she didn’t believe that and couldn’t say it. After some encouragement from myself and the other students, she gave it a go! She shouted it and cried tears of joy. It was so beautiful to watch her embrace her own inner beauty and have the courage to face her fear.

Photo of kids acting classes

What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?

The reward is they are teaching me right back. I learn so much from my students. All my coaches would agree that they are the teachers in our lives.

What’s one time a child surprised you and made your day?

Kids surprise me everyday and always make me laugh. My favorite is the sticky candy handed offering of some precious treat they have carried from home to give me. Reminds me of the time I gave my 1st grade teacher a left over bunny cake and how much it meant to me. I am always surprised by their love and how they just want to share it.

On a similar note, what’s the funniest thing a child has done in your class?

Oh my word! It’s acting class so we get the funniest occurrences. I get a kick out of my teens as they rap together or have dance off. Just them being free makes me laugh with joy!

Photo of acting class in Portland

Why is after school/extracurricular enrichment and camp so important for children?

We all need to be with “our people”, the ones that get us and make us feel safe. After school activities provide a place for kids to gather with like-minds and be seen as their unique selves. It’s crucial to their mental health and overall well being. Especially with all our kids online now, they need breaks. They need to let go and have fun IN PERSON! They need each other.

How do you think children can discover their passions when they’re not in school or your programs?

This is where online DOES come in handy. There are so many free videos out there that if a child really has a yearning to try something new, they can!

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