Kelowna high school instructor named B.C. drama teacher of the year
A little over 10 years ago, Okanagan Mission Secondary School had very few options when it came to drama and theatre programs.
But that all changed when Ryan Grenier walked into the Kelowna high school.
“He’s a character and he’s revered here at OKM. He’s done an amazing job, building the theatre program from the ground up,” said Okanagan Mission Secondary School principal Bruce McKay. “He’s passionate. He loves his job and the work he does. The kids love the opportunity to work with him in the theatre program and the productions that we see here are unbelievable.”
These days, the school is running 10 full blocks of Grade 7 to 12 drama classes, as well as classes in theatre production, theatre performance, musical theatre and a separate theatre company.
For this reason, and a host of others, including his passion and commitment to fueling creativity in his students, Grenier was chosen as the 2018 Drama Teacher of the Year by the Association of British Columbia Drama Educators.
From Shrek the Musical to a modernized version of Macbeth, the students at OKM are exposed to all types of productions and a variety of work roles.
“He gives the students a really great opportunity here, because we do about three productions a year and everyone’s involved in everything,” said Grade 12 student Saphia Ediriweera. “Usually it rotates. I started off acting and then he let me [to] stage manage.”
Ediriweera added that she wasn’t surprised Grenier was named drama teacher of the year.
“I feel like, for this generation especially, it’s harder for teachers to connect with the students because we grew up so differently than they did,” Ediriweera said. “I think Mr. Grenier does a great job of showing us there’s so much more than just technology.”
Many of Grenier’s students were so inspired by his passion that they will be pursuing careers in theatre, film and television. This includes grade 12 student Cayle Cronquist, who is planning on attending Vancouver Film School.
“Mr. Grenier has definitely opened many doors for me. I came into theatre only for acting and left every day with something new,” Cronquist said. “Singing, dancing, technician, lights, backstage — things I can improve to make, not only my performance better, but the entire performance for everybody else.”
Grenier says this award is a team effort and one that he shares with many faculty members and volunteers who assist with the productions.
“It’s humbling,” Grenier said. “I’m really proud but it really is a reflection of all the program that we have here.”
Receiving the award hasn’t changed much for the drama teacher; it’s still all about preparing for the next show.
“All I want to do is ignite students’ passion. The kids always say that we have a family here in this theatre,” said Grenier. “It’s a place that they come, be accepted, belong and just pursue the things that are maybe a little bit wild and crazy, but it’s where their heart is so we really want to encourage that.”
So it’s on with the show for Grenier and the team, working on their latest production, Les Miserables.
“If they don’t become professional actors, I’m OK with that,” said Grenier. “But, if they can find art in their lives and find that outlet for their creativity, we want to encourage that.”
Les Miserables is a full opera which opens Jan. 30 and runs until Feb. 9 at Okanagan Mission Secondary School. Tickets are available to the public on school cash online.
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