News And Events

ESU Kansas City Branch Hosts ESU-Folger Teaching Shakespeare Workshop

The English-Speaking Union, in partnership with the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library, developed a custom-designed one-day workshop for middle and high school teachers to give tools they need to bring Shakespeare to life in their classrooms. The ESU-Folger Teaching Shakespeare Workshop was held on June 15, 2016, at the Kansas City Public Library, Central Library, downtown Kansas City, MO.

This workshop was exclusively offered to educators in select cities in the U.S. in which ESU Branches are located. The Kansas City Branch of the English-Speaking Union was pleased to be one of the host cities offering this Teaching Shakespeare Workshop to middle and high school teachers in the Kansas City Metro Area. Jessica Cakrasenjaya, a Master Teacher from the Folger National Teacher Corps was the Workshop instructor and focused on the Folger Four—scholarship, performance, curriculum and assessment.

In the ESU-Folger Teaching Shakespeare Workshop, teachers received:

  • Full‐day professional learning session with a Master Teacher from the Folger National Teacher Corps
  • Lively, hands-on practice with techniques that work with all kinds of students in all kinds of classrooms
  • Teachers learned how to get students on their feet and into complex texts in minutes
  • Master skills outlined in the Common Core
  • Methodology that includes beginning, sustaining, and assessing a unit for teaching any Shakespeare play.
  • A set of curriculum materials created for the English-Speaking Union containing cutting-edge pedagogy for teaching Shakespeare including classroom activities, lesson plans, access to videos and audio clips from the Folger's collection and essays by Shakespeare scholars
  • Video created by the Folger exclusively for the workshop which included a welcome by Folger Director, Dr. Michael Witmore, an introduction by Director of Education, Dr. Peggy O'Brien, and a lecture by a nationally known Shakespeare scholar.
  • Information and specific lessons for preparing students for the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition
  • Information on creating an in-class Shakespeare Performance Festival.
  • Certificate for Teacher Professional Development Credits

An exciting added benefit to teachers attending the ESU-Folger Teaching Shakespeare Workshop is that the First Folio Traveling Exhibition, titled "First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare" was in Kansas City from June 6-28, 2016, and was hosted by the Kansas City Public Library, Central Library. Part of the curriculum of the Teaching Shakespeare Workshop included a tour of this special exhibit. 

At the Workshop, Dan Bukovac, ESU Kansas City Branch's Shakespeare Competition Coordinator, gave a presentation explaining how the Competition is administered. Dan explained how the Competition helps students develop communication and critical thinking skills and an appreciation of literature as they explore the beautiful and timeless themes in Shakespeare's works.

Ben Martin, Executive Director of the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education and a member of and Board Advisor to the English-Speaking Union, Kansas City Branch, gave a brief overview of the MAAE to the Workshop teachers explaining how the nonprofit organization helps support the performing arts in all grade levels throughout the state of Missouri. The MAAE and Ben both helped sponsor the catered lunch for the Workshop teachers. The ESU thanks them for their generous donation and support.

One of the Workshop teachers, Annie Newcomer, entered the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's annual sonnet writing contest. Annie earned third place recognition for her sonnet that focused on the theme of Andrea Mays' book The Millionaire and the Bard which told the story of Henry Folger's obsessive hunt for First Folios. Annie read her winning sonnet to the Workshop teachers who truly appreciated the special talent required in writing sonnet poetry.

Thirty-five teachers from as far away as Nebraska and Oklahoma attended the ESU-Folger Teaching Shakespeare Workshop and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Brian Gehrlein, Director of Theatre at Oak Park High School in North Kansas City, stated, "It was honestly the most informative and meaningful learning experience since I attended college and I even think I learned more about Shakespeare and teaching than I did in undergrad!"

Deborah McArdle, president of the ESU Kansas City Branch and Workshop coordinator, said, "Our partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library has already given hundreds of teachers in other ESU Branch cities the tools they need to bring Shakespeare to life in their classrooms." McArdle was thrilled that the ESU Kansas City Branch was able to offer this unique Workshop to middle and high school teachers, noting, "There is no other comparable program for teaching Shakespeare in the U.S. except this custom Workshop developed for the ESU."

Click here to see Photo Gallery from the Workshop. The two videos below show some of the teaching exercises in action.

Folger instructor, Jessica Cakrasenjaya, gets Workshop teachers participating in a fun teaching session.

Workshop teachers performing a Shakespeare play teaching exercise 


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