Connie Graham joined North Star Academy in 2007. Previously, Connie had begun training as a dancer and danced in a company through high school. Though she received a B.A. in psychology from Dickinson College, she chose to pursue a professional musical theatre career and performed regionally, in national tours and on Broadway. Later, she received her teacher certification through Seton Hall, taught preschool, and then directed her own theatre school for kids for ten years. She is now in her 8th year at North Star as a performing arts teacher and instructional leader.
What inspires you?
I am inspired every day by the North Star students and our team of Performing Arts teachers. Across 9 campuses, we have 12 talented theatre professionals, with impressive, many with Broadway, backgrounds, who have changed careers to teach Performing Arts full time to our students. Their passion and dedication to teaching the kids fuels me daily. Through the 75 annual performances they direct, our scholars get a chance to be sparkly, funny, passionate, and dynamic. I just saw hundreds of students performing in Black History Shows portraying everyone from Rosa Parks, to President Obama, to the “Three Doctors” from Newark! You can’t get more inspiring than that!
Why did you choose North Star?
You might say my journey to North Star started with my mother. She is a wonderful kindergarten teacher and she directed her 5 year olds in terrific plays written by my father. My Dad came by playwriting honestly —my Grandfather ran Hull House in Chicago for many years and used theatre as a way to integrate people into the community. Though I had fun performing, it was never my passion. I came to North Star with not only a theatre background, but with a firm belief in social justice and an understanding from my parents that theatre in education can be a tool for change. I fell in love with teaching at North Star, with the students, and the amazing staff. When we founded the elementary school, we wanted to integrate the arts teaching with the incredible North Star academics so that the scholars were able to “show what they know.” We developed an elementary "Morning Circle” and by May, we debuted the first Kindergarten production of “Magic Sticks.” Today, our Performing Arts program uses theatre performance to teach all our scholars communication and life skills. It is a joy to see them shining in front of large audiences.