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Salute to Teachers: Sarah Barthel Helps Students Learn Off and On the Stage

The Lompoc High School teacher wants her students to approach thought-provoking subjects whether it's in drama class or math class

Lompoc High School drama and choir teacher Sarah Barthel is the 2015 Santa Barbara County Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.
Lompoc High School drama and choir teacher Sarah Barthel is the 2015 Santa Barbara County Performing Arts Teacher of the Year. (Santa Barbara County Education Office photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: Fourth in a series on the teachers who will be honored Nov. 14 at A Salute to Teachers 2015, presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for a complete series index.]

Prompting her students this year to ask deeper questions of their characters and probe how they think about reality is something Lompoc High School drama and choir teacher Sarah Barthel was particularly excited about as she watched them take the stage.

                             |  Salute to Teachers 2015 |  Complete Series Index  |

This fall, Barthel’s drama class performed Inherit the Wind, which is based on the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. She said she’s always found the play thought-provoking, and was eager to explore it with her students.

“The main theme of the importance of thinking for yourself is one that resonates with me,” she said. “Particularly in a modern society with so much technology at our fingertips, it is easy to quickly be caught up in something without thinking it through for yourself.

“That is a timeless message and one that certainly bears repeating.”

The production included some nontraditional casting in order to best use the students who auditioned, Barthel said, giving her an opportunity to work through the results with the students.

“They learned a lot about history, theater and also about themselves,” she said. “When onstage art translates to daily life, that’s when I really feel like I have done my job.”

The Santa Barbara County Education Office is honoring Barthel for a job well done, and she has been chosen as the 2015 Santa Barbara County Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Barthel is among seven teachers who will be recognized at the Salute to Teachers gala event Nov. 14 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

Presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office, A Salute to Teachers 2015 is sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross, Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk and Village Properties.

Barthel’s students will be performing a monologue performance from the play at the awards ceremony, as well as a musical medley.

Barthel, who lives in Lompoc with her husband, Paul, and their three sons, Ben, Noah, and Andrew, received bachelor’s degrees with highest honors in mathematics and theater from Bethany College in West Virginia.

She completed her master’s degree in education at Chapman University and has been teaching at Lompoc High since 2000.

Barthel began teaching math full time at the school and took over the drama program in 2002. She has had a split teaching assignment since.

She has added AP Calculus and choir to her teaching schedule more recently, but since last year, she has taught drama and choir part time to spend time with her youngest son.

Barthel also serves as pianist at Peace Lutheran Church in Lompoc and has worked for the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA) in Santa Maria as the lead instructor for the Young People’s Project during the summers of 2011 through 2015.

“It is a privilege to work with the students at Lompoc High School every day,” she said.

“I love being part of a process that helps them realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined, both onstage and off.”

A Salute to Teachers begins with a red-carpet reception at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido, and the awards show starts at 6 p.m. The event is black-tie optional.

Tickets are $14. Click here to purchase tickets online, or call 805.966.4946.

The event will be broadcast in its entirety on Cox Channel 8 later this year and will be available to be viewed online at Cox8TV.com.

                             |  Salute to Teachers 2015 |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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