Adventures of a Drama Teacher

{September 8, 2007}   The Gawds shined on me today!!!!

I finally got my internet at home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So be prepared for a barrage of entries to catch you up! Before I add the ones I have written in the past month I will catch you up with the past few days.

Yesterday we took the whole high school on an adventure day in the Ardennes. We hiked, climbed walls and went through caves, bonded and got really muddy and tired. I am a 9th grade advisory (homeroom) so I had my kids with me plus a few more of my drama students. Then today I went to green and white day which was a soccer, volleyball tournament against our rival school ISB. A lot of my students are on the teams. Every game I watched we won! Okay now for the barrage.

As a New Orleans’s style jazz band plays outside our window above the very expensive dress shop appropriately named “Talking French” I think of all the exciting things I haven’t had the time, or the internet access to write. I still don’t have either, but I need to catch up. I am living in the Centre de Waterloo, and the annual Braderie Festival is going on, and the band is literally under my window. I am on the third floor, although over here it is the second as the first floor is zero. I have met and conversed with my down stairs neighbor’s, en Francais, but Corinne wants to practice her English too. They are quite gentile (nice). Two very narrow flights of stairs lead to our apartment from a secret door that one can only find if they almost step foot into the boutique below. One would be frightened away by the prices but the clothes are manifique! The Belgian people must be the most aesthetically beautiful people I have ever seen, although most of them smoke. Fashion is high here in the Centre. People bring their dogs with them everywhere. Ikea, grocery stores, restaurants etc. It’s very funny.


The music below is now playing “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey” which reminds me of my cruise ship days and Disneyland. “I’ll do the cooking honey, I’ll pay then rent, just please come home.” The people are very friendly and I am getting pretty good at getting by with my rusty French, but I am miserably homesick for Sam.


It is a good thing that I am very congenial, as everything takes more time here and cost’s at least twice as much. Gas is over $10.00 a gallon! The taxes provide excellent benefits such as medical coverage and pensions though. I am saving the same amount I was for retirement in the states, and I am not contributing anything but taxes. I have furnished my apartment very modestly at Ikea, as the stairs keep me from bringing up anything too big. I will have to have a machine de lave (washing machine) lifted through the window eventually. So far I have been doing my laundry at my good friend and ex-English teacher’s house. Mo and I have relied on her quite a lot and she has been more than gracious. We have stayed over there quite a bit. Morrison just loves her, she has dogs we walk and she loves to play games. She also gets Morrison’s precocious wit. This whole experience is forcing me to be more social, unlike AZ. I think if I had been more social there I never would have left. I still am very lonely here, and I have cried every day for missing Sam. As well as I cannot call home yet without a fixed line, which I am hoping will be fixed this Wednesday.


It has rained almost every day since we’ve been here, kind of like Hawaii where at some point it rains. Only the very first day did it rain ALL day long. The past week has been pretty nice. We will need a car eventually, as I am sure it will become a drag to walk when the heavy rains starts. The weather here is comparable to that of Oregon.


I have realized that material things are not important, as I would give up everything I have save Morrison to be together with Sam, but I realize too that even if I was back in AZ we would not be physically together. He is just too swamped and will be as such for another year.


Now Scottish bagpipes are playing below.


Tomorrow commence the school year with the students. My schedule is hellish. There is A week and B week and the classes change daily and weekly, so it may take a while to figure it out. I also have auditions this week for the high school show, which is also my thesis show, and 24 hour theatre and London Taps trip coming up. No rest for the wicked as I always have said and I know believe Sam and I both must have been Satin’s little helpers in former lives. Which reminds me that I went to my first Catholic Mass since I went to school here in the 70s. Things have not changed. Stand up sit down, stand up and extend peace to your neighbors. I wish I had more time to listen but I find myself going over lists of the things I need to do in my head.


This is a little much for one entry, again I hope to get pictures soon. Know that I love miss all my buddies, friends, family and former students, and hope to hear from you all soon.




Tomorrow begins auditions. I have known the students for three days now and they are the best part of this adventure.   I am now baking cookies to bribe the IT guys at school to come over and get my Internet going; I have tried but failed, I today only got my fixed phone line repaired so I can have Internet and cable TV. I sometimes get CNN and BBC; a little English as I am very home sick. I have been here 20 days.


My concerns with the students are accents. Wow, they are strong! At first with the ones who sound American I thought they weren’t good readers, but I think now that English is their second or third language so some words are still hard for them. I do think the former teacher wasn’t a hard ass about reading a loud a lot like I am. He certainly never did vocal warm-ups with them as they look at me like I am out of my head when we warm-up. I taught them the Zoo Woah Shaw first thing. Maybe that was a bad idea, but how was I to know? You should see how they reacted to energy ball! They told me they played games as warm-ups (they didn’t know freeze tag, park bench or ABCs). I do think I have the talent to pull off the show. Bon chance aujourd hui.



I am the happiest I’ve been since I arrived in Belgium. Not that I have been super un-happy, but I have had many moments of depression. Today’s casting session reminded me again “why” I do this job. I made it through the week. I paralleled Sylvia Barrett with students testing the new teacher and the bureaucracy of the administration. A concern I am having today is the damn metric system! Everything is metric and I don’t know it. Try building a set when you are not schooled in the metric system.


I managed to cast the show! I found out that I indeed DO have a budget and a rather large one at that. Doesn’t mean I should spend it all, but at least I can cover the show. I HATE casting as I hate disappointing kids, but I think it will be okay. I have the main characters dead on. Even my Paul, a drop dead gorgeous senior, which physically embodies the character, I worried about his STRONG French accent, but another drama teacher (8th grade) and I felt that the accent would make him even more “devastating’ to the women of the show; Besides the character quotes French in his dialogue. We had such a fun casting today and it is wonderful to hear students singing the “Banjo” song in the hall-ways. Not ALL students are frightened by me. The serious drama ones (My IB classes and the after school UTDS group) seem to be just as vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic as me. So I cast the show and I have a budget! Hal laaaay loo ya!!!




I just got off the phone with my designer. He’s in Hollywood. His design and ideas I truly love but I do not trust that Jean Van Claire (technical director) and the stagecraft class can pull it all off. I don’t think this school has ever done anything, or at least a set, as elaborate. But the school claims to be drama orientated and the BEST performing arts school in Europe, so let’s prove it! I had a first read though with the cast after school today and it was fun and exciting. My main concern is not to turn it into a farce. The kids have a tendency to play it that way at this point, but I have not given them direction yet except just to experiment with it. I did mention, “Do not memorize lines until we have blocked it out and given character directions” so that they don’t get into a rut of doing it the same way if I want to change something. I had a moment, well about 10 minutes of doubt this evening as to “Why I chose to do this?” Not just the thesis project but the whole move. What was I thinking to try to pull this off? Not only in a new school but a foreign country! I am just plain mad (insane)! I am getting a car soon so that will make things easier although I will be broke.




I got more blocked than expected. The kids are doing well. Laurits didn’t show up for Paul. I am so tired I can’t think straight. Belgian bureaucracy is hell.


spicoli007 says:

HOORAY! so good to hear all your news. (((hugs))) I had to move my diary. I’m now at ~BoXx

Chelsea C says:

Oh,Mrs. Griffin. I’m so glad you’re getting more acquainted (is that the right word? Where’s Porter when you need him?) with this whole thing. We miss you as always, and the new teacher is finally learning that she needs to put her foot down. We’re doing monologues (no Shakespeare, :(, darn) right now for our Alice in Wonderland auditions. Good luck with your show and have you taught them the Squirrely song yet?

Shannon says:

Hey Mrs. Griffin!! Its great to hear the great news!!! One more thing, could you please tell Connor to be nice to me? It was just a JOKE for goodness sake!!!!

sammygirl608 says:

Hey Mrs. Griffin! I’m so glad that you’re doing better, and i’m glad that you’re getting used to things(tiredness included, i happens right?)I hope everything else falls into place for you Mrs. G!! High school is going great by the way, but we all miss you wish you could be there for our up coming show(i’m actually dancing in it). Its called The Sea Kings Daughter(which is actually just The Little Mermaid but a german version). I’m trying out for Julia Ceasar on september 27th(yes Julia Ceasar, Not Julius Ceasar but it’ll still be a great sho). But again I’m glad you’re doing good and i hope your show turns out to be amazing!!!

♥Sam D.

Casey E says:

It’s nice to hear from you again. I’m glad to hear that your doing well. We all miss you an insane amount.

Alec M. says:

Hey Mrs. Griffin! I’m really glad your finally becoming happy to be in Europe with everyone! Drama isn’t the same without you, but out adv. drama class directly had a talk with Ms. Alop and now there is SO much more understanding and less awkwardness in our class!

Sarah M says:

Hey Mrs.G! Its great to hear that your having a great time! Update soon!

I’m so happy for you!! I brag about you constantly! (Hey, did you know that my old drama teacher is now teaching a prestigious IB school in Belgium!!) It’s great that you are getting settled in finally! A Hollywood designer for a school play (then again, if you’ve got it…). So how is your thesis graded? I was wondering that. Anyway, good luck and have fun!

brooke h. says:

I’m really glad you’re happier in Belgium now (even though it sounds “hellish”, haha). We all really miss you but that doesn’t mean the move was a bad idea. =D I hope you’re still having fun!

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