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 Samantha Jeffreys, the founder and artistic director of CenterStage, which offers performing arts classes for children of all ages in New York City.
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 created CenterStage in honor and memory of my Mom, Karen, who was a NYC music teacher. In 2013 my mom lost her battle with brain cancer and I knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps in a meaningful way. As a professional opera singer that also loves children, and values education, it only made sense to combine my two passions and start a children’s performing arts company.
Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?
I have had endless inspiring moments throughout my time as a teacher and the owner of CenterStage.
One that really stands out to me is when COVID hit and all of our classes were forced to go virtual. It was quite challenging to “perform” from our homes, however, my incredibly gifted staff was committed to teaching our students that no matter what, “the show must go on!” We were able to give ALL of our stars an end of semester performance from the safety of their own homes, yet come together as a cast and keep the magic of theater alive!
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?
The most rewarding thing about teaching is making a difference in the lives of my students and helping them to realize their full potential and sometimes even uncovering some pretty spectacular dreams. Sharing my passion for the performing arts is a privilege and a gift that I get to share with a younger generation on a daily basis!
Why is after school/extracurricular enrichment and camp so important for children?
There are three big ways we feel our programs benefit children:
- We teach performance skills which gives a huge boost to the self-confidence of the children we work with.
Confidence is the cornerstone of a child's journey toward success, and every year we receive heartwarming emails from parents expressing how their children's newfound confidence has shown up in other areas of their life. From being more active in group presentations at school, to being more confident at going up to other kids on the playground and making friends.
- It’s also really important to us that we help children learn to communicate and express themselves.
Our programs encourage self-expression through movement, music, dance, improv, or some combination of the above. Our nurturing approach helps children feel comfortable in their own bodies and promotes a positive sense of self.
- We give children the arts education they may not get elsewhere.
In an era where arts education is often overlooked, we provide children with enriching artistic experiences and learning. Even in schools where an art curriculum is included, performing arts are often left out. We work with our young stars so they don't just get familiar with the popular musicals of the day, but also the great classics. What other summer program has children tackling Rogers and Hammerstein? Ours does, and our kids have a great time AND get exposed to great works of art.