Opinion: Applicant questions hiring process for play director

I would like to publicly react to the hiring of the Elk River High School theater position that was posted this last spring.

It is my understanding that after the position was closed and a new activities director was hired, the new director opened the position again for one week so that (a teacher) from Spring Lake Park High School could apply. After she applied, she was given the position.

It appears to me that the guidelines for hiring were not followed. None of us applicants were interviewed and none of us have received any notification that the position was filled or a thank you for applying.

Many of you in the Elk River community and some of you in the Rogers community know of my work. I have a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in theater, have taught high school and college for 34 years, have a lifetime teaching certificate, have directed over 200 productions, have won numerous directing awards, have directed 14 musicals for the Elk River Community Theatre and one for Rogers High School this past spring.

These are just a few of my educational and professional credits. I have no idea what kind of qualifications the new hire has or what kind of experience she may have, but I doubt that any of the applicants had my qualifications.

Why did I bother to apply, you ask? The theater program at Elk River High School has been mediocre at best the past 30 years. I have worked with many students and parents and relatives of students the 14 years I directed in Elk River. Many came to my productions with little or no training but with lots of talent. I felt that it was criminal to have this kind of talent in this community and then have no one at the helm to nurture, guide and improve these talents.

My mission was to elevate the level of production and to train the students that I would be working with. Many of these students want to continue on in the theater as a profession and to get a degree in theater from some college.

Without a theater program in school and poor guidance during production, these students entered college at a disadvantage. It was my goal to change that and to mentor someone, after a couple of years, to take over once the program was at a high level.

Do I need a job? No, of course not. My intention was to elevate the program, to get the community involved, to get some support for the students who have an interest and a talent, to give them the training and experience necessary for them to carry with them as they pursue their future in the theater — as a teacher, an actor, a designer, playwright, whatever.

My only reason for writing this is to say that the whole process was insulting to me, to my fellow applicants, to the student body, to their parents and to the community at large.

I wish the new director well and hope that she has a vision and the capability to fulfill the needs of these talented young people. — Warren Schueneman, Ph.D.

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