Dear Model Magnet,
Unfortunately there is a wide disparity in the quality of high school theatre programs in this country. Some states are more supportive than others, and some districts within states are more supportive than others. It’s not always a case of funding – there are almost always funds – it’s a case of allocation of funds. There is a list of ‘Gold Standard Schools’ on the PRESETT website, but I wish this was the rule not the exception. I applaud your school district for researching this!
School theatres in this country vary widely in facility quality, staffing models, teacher knowledge requirements, risk management compliance, vocational support, curriculum, and a variety of other factors, and even legality conformity. In the online High School Theatre Management Training course I’ve had students from every situation, from a school that houses its theatre in a tent structure to schools that have multi-million dollar state-of-the-art Performing Arts Centers on their campuses, and everything in between. In terms of staffing I see everything from one teacher running EVERYTHING to a fully staffed theatre where there is a minimum staff of 7 (paid!) technicians required for each event.
Schools with strong theatre models tend to have a strong staffing model – a one-person show can’t run a strong theatre program on their own, and I do hope that your district doesn’t expect you to do it all. Too often, while schools manage to raise the money to create a model theatre facility and program, once the keys are handed over there is no money budgeted to operate the facility and program. This typically leaves the high school with a state-of-the-art theatre facility and no one to properly staff it so that it is appropriate and optimal for educational purposes, and suitable for practical and safe operational use. For this reason, I highly recommend you discuss with your district what staffing model will support your theatre program goals (work backwards – what program goals do we have, and what staff will we need to hire to support those goals/curriculum). I can’t recommend any one theatre to you but I can give you some ideas for staffing in general. Here goes:
Instrumental Music Teacher
Vocal Music Teacher
CTE Tech Theatre Teacher
One dedicated Lighting Technician and one sub
One dedicated Sound Technician and one sub
One dedicated Stage/Rigging Technician and one sub
Paid Student Crew, supervised by the above
You may be wondering why there is no costume designer, set designer, etc. mentioned. That’s because each show (school, district or outside event) tends to hire their own design team – although… this should also be budgeted for, in the case of a model theatre program. I realize that this is a high “gold standard”, but when you consider the staffing model of an entire sports program in a high school you find that the need for so many ‘coaches’ in your theatre is not unreasonable.