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Innovative Educator: Kuna educator bringing Shakespeare to her students

"It's just really cool to see as a teacher, how they've kind of opened up their hearts and their minds to a new experience."

KUNA, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union

William Shakespeare once wrote, "all the world's a stage," and in Zizly Quiroz's classroom, the students are the players.

"My goal was just to get as much exposure in front of the kids as possible, and I mean, everybody's got to read a Shakespeare play in their lifetime," Quiroz said.

Zizly Quiroz is an English Language Arts teacher at Project Impact Stem Academy, a charter school located in Kuna. Recently, Quiroz decided to introduce her seventh through twelfth-grade students to Shakespeare.

"And I got a ton of eye rolls, you know, teenagers are like 'Shakespeare great'," Quiroz said, "and so we were going to read a play, Romeo and Juliet, and we were going to do a scene analysis. So they took a scene from the play that they decided, and they just analyzed it."

That was when analysis turned into appreciation.

"They had a lot of fun with it toward the end, they kind of started getting into it," Quiroz said. "And then they started watching the play and that's kind of where they really, really loved it; and so toward the end, they're like, 'okay, Miss Q, I guess Shakespeare isn't that bad'." 

Zizly wanted to take her students' exposure to Shakespeare one step further, so she reached out to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

They set up a zoom call with the kids and talked about what it is like to be an actor and how the kids could get involved.

"Through the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Miss T, who is our paraprofessional in our classroom said, 'hey, you know, I think they do this really cool thing called Shakeseperience, where the Idaho Shakespeare Festival comes to the school, they perform, and they do a workshop for students'," Quiroz said, "so I was like, 'yes, we have to get them to do this,' right."

So she started researching it, and when she realized they did not have the funds for the Shakeseperience, she applied for a grant through the CapEd Foundation which led to a $750 check delivery.

"Just to see my kids' faces... Just to see them light up meant the world," Quiroz said, "so just really, really thankful for the CapEd Foundation."

Unfortunately, because of scheduling conflicts and a lack of space at the school, the charter school could not accommodate the Shakeseperience, but as they say in theatre, "the show must go on."

Rather than bringing the Shakespeare Festival to the students, soon the students will get to attend the Shakespeare Festival in Boise and see the performance live at the outdoor amphitheater. 

"So I think it's gonna be just even better," Quiroz said.

In the meantime, the students are also rehearsing their own Shakespeare play.

"It was so amazing to see it as a teacher because I just kind of stepped back and kind of let them do their own thing," Quiroz said. "And they decided that they were going to do a totally different version of Romeo and Juliet where it's set in a high school and Romeo is the bad kid but with a good heart, and Juliet was the new student and so they just had this fantastic idea to perform for the rest of the school. It's just really cool to see as a teacher how they've kind of opened up their hearts and their minds to a new experience."

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit their website here.

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