Long Wharf’s Teaching Artists work in classrooms all over Connecticut to help teachers and students integrate theater with their daily learning. Treneé McGee and Ayla Davidson are LWT’s Resident Teaching Artists and work with the Education Department all year long on a variety of different projects. Read our interviews with them to learn more about their work, the challenges they face, and where they like to eat in New Haven!

Meet Resident Teaching Artist Treneé McGee

What is your favorite thing about being a Teaching Artist? My favorite thing about being a teaching artist is being able to walk into classrooms and connect with students who were just like me. Growing up in the New Haven Public School system, I have experienced firsthand what it’s like to be mentored by someone who looks like you, understands your life story and is able identify with your background. Not only am I able to pursue my career, but I am also a part of a scholar’s self-discovery through the arts by implementing theatrical curriculums into their classrooms. I don’t take it for granted. What is the most challenging thing about being a Teaching Artist? Although being a teaching artist is one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had; of course like anything, it comes with its challenges. A challenge for me as a teaching artist was learning to accept that some students might have a hard time accepting direction from someone close in age. I have had a unique experience in classrooms because I know the current “slang” language, pop culture trends and I’m familiar with student life outside of the classrooms. It has been interesting for me learning how to combat the challenges of ageism as a teaching artist in classrooms and school systems; however, I have grown to take this challenge as one to help me grow. Which show are you most excited about this season? Crowns for sure! I am excited to see a story told through the lenses of gospel music and African American traditions. Both of whom I connect with deeply as an African American young woman with pastoral parents; I believe it’s so important to tell all stories! Including those who sing in choirs and use gospel music as a means to connect with people through history, rhythm and poetry. Regina Taylor is also an influencer of mine. What is your favorite place to eat in New Haven? Both Mecha Noodle Bar and Modern Apizza are my FAVORITE food places! I can eat from both all of the time!

Meet Resident Teaching Artist Ayla Davidson

What is your favorite thing about being a Teaching Artist? I love the variety of the work. No two weeks are the alike and the same lesson can feel very different with each new group of students. It keeps my learning fresh and keeps me learning. What is the most challenging thing about being a Teaching Artist? Driving! I’m not a city girl, so navigating downtowns, finding schools, and parallel parking is not my favorite part of the job. Which show are you are most excited about this season? “The Chosen.” I read the Potok novel in high school and can still picture my interpretation of the characters. I’m interested to see them brought to life on stage and to hear their discussions aloud. How do you like to spend your free time? I enjoy being outside: at the lake, going for hikes, working in the garden, hanging out in the backyard. I like having a “walk and talk” with friends (sometimes over the phone). I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. This summer I spent most of my free time hanging out with my now 15-month-old son and watching him grow! -Eliza Orleans