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Why I Teach: Aaron Mize

Middle School Drama Teacher

11 years teaching, 7 at Country Day
BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison; MA, Gardner-Webb University

Why did you become a teacher?

Teaching has given me an opportunity to make a connection with something I hold very dear to my heart. I started acting when I was a kid—about third grade—and I pursued it pretty much my entire life. When I decided I wanted to have a family and keep theater in my life, teaching was one of the greatest ways I could stay with it. So, I got my certificate and here I am. I’ve been teaching drama and directing productions for 11 years and it’s been quite the ride.

What do you like about teaching at Country Day?

I love Country Day for its “What if?” factor. I love that I can have an idea and I can go to my department head and say, “I’d like to take this field trip or incorporate this curriculum in my classroom,” and the answer is always “let’s explore that.”

For instance, a colleague and I were just spitballing across the lunch table one day the idea of taking a theater trip to New York for sixth and seventh graders, and that eventually led to an actual experience for our students. It’s not just administrators. I can go to the orchestra teacher and say, “Hey, I want to do live music in a play next year,” or I can go to an art teacher and say, “Let’s use our students to create some marketing materials for the play or musical.” It’s never a “no.” That’s the norm in terms of the support system from the teachers, and administrators, and students, and even the parents; everyone just bands together to help. 

Also, having a separate campus gives Middle School students an opportunity to stretch their wings and see who they are. It gives them a chance to just be Middle School kids. I always refer to them as puppies with big feet because they don’t necessarily have control of their bodies and what they say or what they mean at the moment. I think being away from the Upper and Lower School students allows them to figure out who they are on this beautiful, tucked-away campus.

How does it feel to see former students winning theater awards?

Watching past students continue to find success in the Upper School and beyond fills me with so much pride. It’s awesome to be a part of these kids’ growth in the Middle School and then to watch them light up the stage in Gorelick Family Theater or at the Blumey Awards. Seeing the progression of these students—seeing where they’ve gone and knowing where they’ve come from—makes me feel like we’re doing a good job.”