What Was This Theatre-Loving Teacher’s Lightning Bolt Moment?

Outside the Theatre   What Was This Theatre-Loving Teacher’s Lightning Bolt Moment?
The native New Yorker explains what it means to leave a lasting impression on young students and how theatre helps her maintain relationships with students.
Barbara Silver
Barbara Silver Monica Simoes
Barbara Silver
Barbara Silver Monica Simoes

Who: Barbara Silver
Stopped: Outside the Booth Theatre on 45th Street

What made you decide to stay living in the city?
It’s exciting—and, of course, work and, eventually, raising a family. The roots are here. The theatre is also one of my most favorite things about New York.

Was there a show that recently left a big impression on you?
Hamilton. Everything about it. I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is just a genius at doing what he does: writing, acting and singing. The whole thing is a joy to watch, plus you learn a lot about history, too. I also found out about his program with high school students and—having been an elementary school teacher—that was very close to my heart.

How do you think teaching has changed you as a person?
When I first started teaching I wasn’t a mother and then when I became one, I realized how important it was to give to my students the same things I was giving to my own child: love, understanding and high expectations. That was a lightning bolt moment; I wanted to give them the same kinds of experiences I was having with my own child.

Are you still in touch with any of your former students?
There was one student who I kept in touch with for a time; I taught her first grade, and, up until she went to college, we would get together and go to the theatre. There was another student who used to write to me for a number of years.

What does it mean to you to know that you leave a lasting impression on someone?
It’s very important. Without having a relationship like that, you really don’t know the impact that you’ve had on them. I remember reading aloud to a group of first graders, and one of them didn’t want me to stop. He said he liked my voice. Recently I walked into the school where I did some part-time work and the children commented on having missed me—that gives me great satisfaction.

If there were to be a show written about your life, what would the title be?
Some People Call Me Babs; that’s my nickname.

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