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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Deirdre Harrison

Hi group. I hated computers in college during the mid 80's. The green light in those basement computer rooms made me nauseous and I was a terrible typist. I literally cut and paste bits of writing spread all over my floor to construct a final draft and then typed it up...painstakingly. Apparently, I am a kinesthetic learner! After study and training in English and Theater at Yale and then the Royal Acadmey of Dramatic Art in London for 7 years, I worked as an actor, singer, director and teacher of ESL in the UK, NYC and Italy.

The last 2 years in Italy I discovered what the internet was and could be. I was an overnight convert and taught myself with some long distance help, all sorts of things. I ran sessions for older women about the itnernet and their computers, while I networked and researched minor and women's rights online. The biggest shocker was discovering the bizarre power dynamics in some homes where one person controlled access and use of all communications tools (I'm sure this is why Italians love their cells so much!). I taught a lot of older women how to make online international calls for free and how to teach themselves more!

In 2003, when I moved back to Chicago permanently with my young daughter, I needed private health insurance for the first time in my adult life. So the arts went on hold and I worked as a Director of Admission and Financial Aid at two emerging private schools, Catherine Cook in Chicago, and National Louis's former lab school, Baker Demsontration, just north of Evanston. I spearheaded Web 2.0 culture shifts in both schools introducing e-newsletters and blogs for admin as well as community purposes, implmented databases for admissions and development and moved finanical aid online. I shifted focus of marketing to online arenas. I served on website redesign committees for both schools and for Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools. I am most proud of increasing ethnic and econmic diversity and the systems that will sustain and grow them at both schools.

After a trip back to London last summer and directing a middle school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream this winter, I decided I to move back to arts and teaching. I am curretnly consulting with Global Citizenship Experience and applying for full time jobs in arts education while I work to convert my 3 year post grad certificate from RADA to a recognized MFA. I volunteer with the Night Ministry, cantor at St. Gertrude's and try to keep up with my 13 year old who teaches me about technolgy all the time. I'd love to hear about anyone who has converted a foreign degree to an MFA and from those who work with schools that use theater in powerful ways.

A presto!

Areas of Interest: 
community building,
social change

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