Marin Arts & Culture May 2017 - Page 22

look befitting the professional she was, and is. arts must have been in her DNA. By the time Stroeh finished elementary school, she was already writing plays and taking dance lessons. Those talents were greatly expanded under her San Marin High School arts and music instructor Emily Gates, who was later to become Stroeh’s master teacher, when she returned to her high school alma mater to student teach. Majoring in music at San Marin High School was not a single-focus activity—you were required to learn a new instrument every two-to-four weeks. Stroeh’s main instrument was piano, but she took to and developed a strong affinity for the cello and the trumpet. She also excelled in both theory and orchestration, revealing herself as the complete package. From San Marin, Stroeh went on to study at Dominican University, where she double-majored in music and drama, picking up her undergraduate degree in 1986, and her M.A. in Arts and Education in 1990. Hired right away to teach part-time at both Terra Linda High School and her parent’s alma mater, San Rafael High School, Stroeh oversaw Terra Linda’s drama and leadership program. She also rebuilt its flagging choral program, which had diminished to 13 students; Stroeh was able to attract 60 students. She mirrored her Terra Linda High School efforts at San Rafael High School, teaching drama and choir there as well. As you can imagine, coming into a teaching situation being not much older than your students requires more than merely establishing your academic credentials. Stroeh confessed she headed to Ross Dress for Less to outfit herself in a buttoned-up, covered-up, zipped-up 22 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE Her rule in the ever-lax dress code era she witnessed, was to allow nothing that would distract either the class or the students. That included behavior or attire. Succinctly put: no boobs, no butts, and no disruptive behavior. This did not, however, prohibit self- expression, like purple hair, unless it conflicted with an upcoming role. Stroeh believes that raising strong individuals builds a strong team. She also believes that if you set expectations, student will live up to them. Case in point: One of her former students, who was the assistant director for a play, wanted to give a break to a student who did not want to memorize his role, saying that the kids were pretty young—from 8-12 years old. But Stroeh brought him up short. “I didn’t give you that option did I?” she asked. “It’s one thing if they have a learning disability,” Stroeh said, “but at that age, they should be able to learn their lines.” So she stuck to her guns, and the kid was fine. Stroeh seeks to create a safe environment that is conducive for creativity to thrive. She allows room to fall, but not to fail. “We will fix what goes wrong together,” she tells the students. And in 27 years of setting high expectations, she’s never been disappointed, which leads into her personal philosophy: Set high expectations. Work hard. Be nice. Instill a belief in the students. Her motto is, “We’re going to Broadway,” and indeed, many of her students have. Now that we have a better picture as to who Christina Stroeh is, let’s focus on her work: reviving the Novato Theater. Originally opened by Al Bowman in 1946, the theater closed its doors in 1991. There was a brief attempt to resuscitate it in the early 2 X[ܝ X][\\[Y[\]\ٚYY[\ܜ[]ZK[\Z][ [\X\KۛZ[X[]Kx&\ۈXX]X[\ܜ[[Bܜ[[XYHH[][]B]H[X[ ][ Y]]YKX[ۛH[Y]ݘ][H^H\XK\YYX\YYH[\˜Hۜ[[ۈHڙX [H[\\YX\وXX[H\]H]ZXHXܝZ]Y\˜XYH^X]]H\X܈[^B[]X]\[YX[]KH[܈[[[]HۙBY\ݘ[]H]K[]\Y[Y[[[X\H N H\][[\ZYۈ\[\^K[Y[]ۜX[ۋ[HHZ[H[\Yܝ˜\HZ[XK\H\H[\ܛX[\ZX\[[\\˜Z[ٙ\Y]Y[ [ݘ]\HHX]\XZ[Z[]˜YZ[\]]HٙX\˂Z^\\؈\H[\\]܈و]\X[XH[[K[HX]\[HY[[œ^ ]][ܙY[[HYZق\X[\K[[ \X˜[[\[[[\\[\›]HX[ۜX\[\ [][^\[[˂\\\Z[H[^][[YH܂ݘ]X\[[H^H\XH]\KPɐ