Lancer Spotlight: Angela Smithhisler wears many hats in the virtual teaching era

Angela Smithhisler makes the most of virtual school.

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Angela Smithhisler works hard on the Weekly Announcements.

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During this school year, Angela Smithhisler has accepted the challenge of teaching AS2 for the social studies department, and Intro to Theatre for the VPA department in the fall. In the spring, she will teach AS2, all levels of Dance, and Advanced Theatre. 

Smithhisler is also the club advisor for Model UN, Drama Club/International Thespian Society, and Dance Club. She’s also the director of the theatrical productions, both the fall play and the spring musical. On top of it all, she is the primary video editor for the weekly virtual announcements, and she’s on the School Improvement Team and Culture & Climate Committee. 

And those are only her school duties.

“I’m also a mother of two, who are engaged in both sports and dance. So, my part-time job is a chauffeur for my children to do their extracurricular activities,” said Smithhisler.

Each of her duties takes dedication, like working on the School Improvement Team. Smithhisler works with students and teachers at the school to focus on achieving goals for the best environment for learning. Currently, their goals are focused on engagement with students, and openness/acceptability of our school culture. They gather data from student surveys and think of creative ways to increase school culture and engagement.

Smithhisler said, “Every week is different, and not all of them go smoothly. I try to keep on top of all the dates, meetings, and engagements with an agenda on my desk. I also know that procrastination is one of my worst enemies, so I do my best to get some work done little by little each day, rather than putting it off until the end of the week. This skill is definitely something that I’ve refined over the seven and a half years that I’ve been a teacher, and it’s constantly improving every year as I continue my career in education.” 

Smithhisler further explained that after the four years of teaching in two departments has given her experience.

“My first year was very stressful because I didn’t know what to expect or really how to juggle so many different curricula. And honestly, I really like my split teaching world. I love history, and that’s what got me into teaching. But teaching theater and dance is also a creative outlet for me that is so fun and entertaining. And it is a very to teach an elective, where the students want to be in the class and enjoy the topics.” 

Smithhisler de-stresses with exercise and family games. “I occasionally do yoga, or self-care beauty routines to relax. I also de-stress by watching movies with my family, or even playing video games. I blame my children on getting me addicted to Animal Crossing. Darn that Tom Nook!”

“It helps that I have a very supportive spouse who helps me get through my work balance and not lose my mind to stress or anxiety. He’s also a great dad who is always willing to play games with them while I finish up some work or attend a long rehearsal.”

With the unprecedented and traumatic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic rippling through the cities of the world, normal life has been put on pause. 

Thankfully for Smithhisler, this transition to a technological world was easy.

“I’ve always been comfortable with technology, since I am of the age that technology has been a big part of my life since I was young. So, that aspect of virtual learning/teaching has been the easy part.”

Even though the shift to a technological life was easy, the experience of socially engaging with students has been diminished. 

Smithhisler said, “What has hit me personally as a teacher is the lack of social engagement with my students, and not seeing them every day face to face. So, to combat that loss, I’ve stayed busy and engaged. I could have easily just cancelled the fall play, but I rolled through and held it, because I myself craved the engagement with my students during the production.”

International Thespian Society board member Rihannon Seyfried said, Mrs. Smithhisler not only loves theater, but she also fosters an environment where students can explore their personality and gain confidence. By encouraging me freshman year, I discovered a love for dance that I would not have been able to find without her. Mrs. Smithhisler is not only a teacher, but a dear friend to many of her students, and the drama department would not be the same without her.

What about the spring?

“I have a spring musical on the back burner that has been approved by the administration. BUT… with all the unknowns in the coming semester, and the small possibility that we might not go back before March is slimming down the likelihood that we can do that musical. I am currently in the process of discussing other show options with the other members of the creative team, Mr. Dye and Mr. Lake. We’ll announce something when we come to an agreement. In terms of my Advanced Theater students, I am still planning on doing a show. I am also looking into virtual dance recital options for my dance classes.”

You will not get through that overwhelming load of work if your mind is crumbling from the stress.

— Angela Smithhisler

“Take care of yourself. You will not get through that overwhelming load of work if your mind is crumbling from the stress. It is worth the time to step away and do something to de-stress, like a yoga routine or bubble bath, and then return to your work recharged.”

“And above all, try to keep a routine. Staying up until early hours of the morning on a consistent basis does not help your overall health. Set a schedule and stick to it by using a calendar or reminders on your phone. As for high pressure, use that high amount of pressure to carry you through your work. It’s a lot like performers who feel stage fright. Often, the adrenaline rush of just getting on stage and acting/singing/dancing helps people get through that stress and execute a great performance.”