Wearing many hats is sometimes considered a challenge. For teacher and actress, Nancy Powell, wearing many hats is a way to bring learning and characters to life. Many hats and lots of costumes, along with a variety of voices, have allowed the veteran teacher to blend her love of the theater with her love of teaching.
“You can’t teach until you have their attention,” says Mrs. Powell. “Creating characters, using the different voices and bringing books to life are invaluable when getting children involved in their learning.” If Nancy Powell’s “Costume Closet” is any indication of her ability to play a variety of roles, her students will never experience a dull moment. “I think I may have more costumes than clothes in my closet,” laughs Mrs. Powell. “I like to buy back at least one piece from each show I am in.” With pieces of her acting past neatly arranged in the closet, it is easy to tell a little story from each show. Nunsense, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Godspell, Hairspray…the list goes on. Fellow actress, Jennifer Smith says, “Nancy is a gem! She is a wonderfully talented actress, be it comedy or drama, and the most genuine and kind soul you could ever hope to meet!”
Most folks seem to feel that way about the actress/teacher, her students included. "She is the best teacher in the whole wide world. She is the goodest teacher that helps us learn every day AND I can't wait to see her smiling face when school starts,” says Breanna Vold. Her sentiments are echoed by Cameron and Ella Dunn. Cameron says, “Mrs. Powell talks funny and one time she wizarded us and casted spells on us.” Ella says, “I love Mrs. Powell because she is crazy funny. She taught us how to waltz at the fairy tale ball. I just love her." With endorsements like these, Mrs. Powell continues to use her acting acumen to make learning fun.
Her fellow teachers and parents agree wholeheartedly with the students. “Nancy has the ability to make learning both fun and interactive for kids,” says teacher, Alyson Voit. “Her students love her because she's not afraid to step/think outside of the box; kids appreciate her creativity and her theatrical nature!”
While teaching and acting are two of her favorite roles, no role was any more rewarding than being a mom. “Life certainly changed, but it opened up a world of new characters,” says Powell. She describes her daughter, Barclay, as having a free spirit and sense of adventure. “She truly did bring life to all of my fairy tale fantasies,” says Barclay. “Instead of just watching Disney movies with me, we would act them out. Of course, I was always the princess, and she was every other male character in the story, but she helped bring those fairy tales to life.”
Spending time in Mrs. Powell’s company is certainly an adventure. At school, she is known to liven up a staff meeting with humor and song during the year. This summer, she has been involved in a slightly new adventure in acting with The Essential Theater. Original Georgia plays are performed in a festival that takes place in Midtown. The actress in Nancy Powell is enjoying her performance in Mysterious Connections by the Essential’s Artistic Director, Peter Hardy. “I have been able to work with friends I have had since before I became a teacher,” says Powell. “It has been an incredibly rewarding time.”
Whether acting, teaching, or a combination of the two, Nancy Powell and her closet full of memorable costumes makes time spent with her a fanciful adventure. Her students say so, her colleagues agree and the parents are amazed at the transformation in their children each year. Smiles abound inside Mrs. Powell’s room, but you never quite know which character might be teaching that day. “I have lots of different characters for different occasions,” says Mrs. Powell. “The kids love to bring characters to life in the classroom.” And they certainly love the adventure that surrounds Mrs. Powell.