2017 Blackboard Award Honoree: Vincent Sagona

Vincent Sagona; photo by Andrew Schwartz

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2017 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Vincent Sagona
Grades 6-12, Drama
Professional Children’s School

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a teacher.

Teaching acting to children is a delicate and beautiful endeavor. The privilege of watching students make profound discoveries in my classes by allowing themselves to connect with their vulnerability in an honest way has been a source of ongoing joy and inspiration for me. To be in the moment with them as they wrestle with their humanity in service to the given circumstances is the essence of what I do. The challenges present themselves in the form of insecurity and peer pressure. Students want to be cool and accepted by their peers which, of course, is diametrically opposed to what I’m asking of them. I consistently push for bold, sensitive, and revealing acting choices which initially is met by resistance and fear. However, when they push through the discomfort, the results can be astonishing.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

I directed an eighth grade production of “Fiddler on the Roof” of which I’m extremely proud. Each student created nuanced and complex characters while never losing sight of the importance of the message. I was particularly pleased with how well the group worked together and how often they showed support to each other.

Elizabeth Willen (The Hechinger Report), Vincent Sagona, and Jonathan Moore (Family Media). Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein

Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

The thing I’m most proud of is the growth I’ve managed to inspire in the upper school drama program. When I started, I had nine students and we offered one section. Today, I teach over 30 students and offer both a regular and advanced drama class. Many students take drama every year. The energy and commitment the students bring to the program coupled with their willingness to take risks has been very gratifying.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated
and hard-working educator?

I love connecting with kids. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. That moment of discovery, wonder and inspiration in the eyes of my students is what drives me and keeps me motivated. Kids are all about possibilities and with possibilities comes hope for the future.