Faculty Profile: English, Drama Teacher Andrea Underhill-Curtin

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Andrea Underhill-Curtain is the new MS English and Drama teacher.

Marlie Kass, Journalist

Andrea Underhill-Curtin joined the School this fall as the Middle School Drama and English teacher. Recently, The Gator sat down with her to talk about diving into the community, favorite plays, and baking.

What brought you to the School?

Brimmer has so much opportunity for students in terms of the arts and I was really attracted to the programming that goes from lower school through high school and that it’s different educators so kids are getting the opportunities to learn from different people and then we work in cohesion together. So that was a huge thing that brought me here. 

What were some of the things you were doing before you joined the School?

I was working at a school called the Parker Charter School, one of the charter coalition schools, and we at Brimmer use the same guiding principles, so they’re very similar in philosophy on education and student focus in terms of “yes, there’s the teacher there, but the teacher is kind of a coach and the student is the learner that is driving their own education.” I actually didn’t know that when I had first applied to Brimmer and started my interviews, so when I found that out I was really interested in how the two were very similar and I thought that it would be a good place for me. I was teaching arts and humanities, so a larger broad spectrum, but I’m trained in theater education, so I was really excited to have more of a focus in what I was teaching. 

What are you looking forward to in your first weeks?

I am looking forward to being able to know my schedule and, honestly, I have really loved getting to work with the students. All summer, and even in the pre-school prep, all the teachers are thinking like how to be the best teachers and how to make the school a better place and make it comfortable for students and it means so much to be able to then put that into practice by then actually getting to work with students. I don’t think anybody in teaching goes into it for the planning, they go into it to work with students and help them learn, so I just look forward to getting to know the students well. 

What can you tell us about the upcoming Middle School play?

We started rehearsal on Saturday. I am looking forward to that continuing to flow and happen, but there’s a lot to learn for the students too. We’re doing The Witches by Roald Dahl. There’s a cast of twenty-nine actors which is great and there’s another ten that are on the crew and there are another five on the stage management team.  

Everyone’s masked in the show and one of the reasons I chose this show is I thought it would be an opportunity to have some fun with masks. I was like “we might as well make the most of it and be non-human characters.” I’m really excited to get back into rehearsal. The permitters of COVID can’t stop our love for doing what we’re doing so we can make it happen in a safe way. 

What are some plays and stories that you love or that have really impacted you?

One of the things I’m really trying to do is increase my awareness and reading of non-white playwrights so reading more of their works. There’s definitely been influential plays and musicals in my life, but they’ve just been at different times. The first musical I was ever in was called Children of Eden. It’s a story about the Bible, but it isn’t so much about religion as it is about community and family which I love. I was also in Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill. It’s a pretty heavy subject, but it was certainly an influential play in my life. 

As far as a play that I could recommend for people to read: if you haven’t read anything by Neil Simon by the time you graduate high school, I would encourage you to do that. He’s a little dated but I think he’s really funny. Also, one of my favorite playwrights is Sarah Ruhl. Read Eurydice: it’s one of my favorite pieces. 

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to exercise and I love to bake. Yesterday I baked biscuits and chocolate chip cookies because the weather is finally cool enough. I love outdoor exercise. I like going for runs and walks. I also really love yoga. I also love to watch shows. I do find that when I watch TV it is an active activity because I’m engaged and thinking about the writing and the acting. 

Is there anything you want to say to the community?

I want to extend my gratitude for such a warm welcome and for being so supportive as a new person and a new teacher and I’m so excited to get to know everybody in a meaningful way. I’m excited for continuing to work together as far as it comes to reconnecting. As someone who’s new, it’s been pretty incredible to have such support from my colleagues and also patience from students. I’m just excited to keep growing.

Editor’s Note: responses have been edited for clarity and length.