When Power APAC theater arts teacher Dorian Myers, 30, sits on the edge of the stage in the little APAC auditorium, it is evident that she is in her territory. Wearing dark pants and a shirt almost as bright as her personality, she laughs each time she mentions "my kids."
Considering Myers' glittering eyes when speaking of how little Virginia reads under a tree everyday or when telling the story of another student running up to her to thank Myers for all that she had done for the children, it is hard to believe that education was not her first choice.
"I never wanted to be a teacher," Myers says, "but if you are called to be a teacher, it's hard to get away from that."
Myers, a Brandon native, received her theater degree from Grambling State, and decided to go into education after she was not accepted into the graduate theater program at University of Kentucky at Louisville.
"I had my life planned out until I was 70. I thought I would be on Broadway and end up dying a mysterious death, because, you know, all great actors die a mysterious death," Myers says jokingly. Not knowing what else to do with a bachelor's degree in theater, she decided to get her master's degree at Belhaven in education.
After Myers graduated in 2002, she began teaching gifted students in Carthage.
"That was a learning experience," Myers says, laughing.
In 2003, she applied for an open position at APAC. "And I am happy!" Myers says, calling her second career choice an unexpected blessing."
She explains that she especially likes that the arts scene in Mississippi is still kind of raw compared to other places in the United States. "Other places have so much there that sometimes it is hard for new artists to come out," she says.
Myers recently won a $5,000 Lowe's Toolbox education grant that will benefit everyone at the school with an outdoor classroom, which Myers hopes will be ready after the summer break. It will include a reading garden, classroom, a soundstage and even a greenhouse that will make it possible for teachers to use the area year-round, giving the children real hands-on experience. Myers also plans to have professionals come to school to teach lessons.
Myers looks forward to students being able to experience the things they study, instead of just "looking at a picture in a book."
"The kids get fresh air; they get to do something fun and learn at the same time. If you can make something fun for the kids, why not?"