Burbank Teacher of the Year, John Burroughs High School Drama teacher Guy Myers, was selected as one of the 16 Teachers of the Year for Los Angeles County, as announced in a ceremony on Friday, September 20. He will move on to consideration for the California State Teacher of the Year, the results of which are announced in October.
Myers first started at JBHS as an English teacher and when the drama teacher retired, he was offered the chance to take over the program. In the ensuing years, he’s built the JBHS Drama Program into multiple classes of Drama 1, Drama 2, Musical Theater and Advanced Play Production which enrolls hundreds of students in grades 9 – 12.
“I’m a theater geek – I always have been, and I always will be,” commented Myers. “After graduating from Yale with a degree in Theater Studies and serving as president of the Yale University Dramatic Association, I traveled the U.S. performing, writing and directing.”
“But I was most inspired working with high school and college students in the theater classroom. It’s magical. When nurtured to express themselves creatively, students find their voices and shake off their fears. It was challenging and rewarding, and I knew I had to be a teacher.”
So he earned a Master’s degree in education and a teaching credential in English from Mount St. Mary’s College in 2005. Two years after that, he happened to be driving past JBHS right as school was letting out.
“The energy and enthusiasm from students leaving campus were electric, and I turned to my friend and said, ‘I’m going to teach drama at this school.’ Mission accomplished.”
“I’m extremely proud of Burroughs’ theater program, which I built from scratch beginning with only a few students,” Myers continued. “We perform three mainstage productions annually and have earned statewide and national attention from multiple theater organizations.”
“While accolades are flattering, what’s most gratifying is seeing students reach their potentials and step onto the stage or into the world with bravery and confidence – knowing they can and must share their stories with us all.”
Myers “loves teaching his students to express themselves creatively, find their voices and share their authentic selves. Through the art of storytelling and the power of words, [he] hopes to embolden his students with confidence and bravery as they walk out onto the stage or into the world.”
Several of his students have written comments about their experiences in the JBHS Drama Program that Myers read aloud at a recent Burbank Arts For All Community Exchange meeting highlighting successful BUSD progams in the arts.
“I can’t think of a single reason to be open about who you are in high school. It must seem a bit of a played-out trope, hating high school. But it’s a trope I’m guilty of,” wrote one of Myers’ students. “I felt I had to put on an armor every day to get through the day. The armor held all the parts of me that made me individual.”
“I don’t know how Mr. Myers did it. He created a space freeing in a place that is anything but. He nurtured creativity, honesty, self-expression of his students in his classes,” the student continued. “He created a space where young people felt safe to try out who they were for an hour of the day. My education comes from the experience of being open in the sight of others.”
Now that Myers has been selected as one of the 16 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year, a State selection committee will review the candidates’ applications and visit their respective schools to see the teachers in action and the California Department of Education will conduct another interview. The State Superintendent of Education will then choose the five California Teachers of the Year and announce the honorees in October.
JBHS Drama’s first performance of the season is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” which runs November 22-24 at the high school auditorium. More information on the JBHS Drama program can be found here.