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Dater Students Shine and Learn Life Skills Through Innovative Theatre Program

On Wednesdays, visitors at Gilbert A. Dater High School might just hear rounds of applause coming from its Multiple Disabilities Unit thanks to a partnership with Ensemble Theatre. Cincinnati’s (ETC) Hunter Heartbeat program.

“Hunter Heartbeat was created by UK actress and educator Kelly Hunter and is a method of introducing theatre to individuals with developmental disabilities through the stories and characters of Shakespeare,” said ETC Director of Education Victoria Aslanides. “By exploring “The Tempest” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” participants are invited to enjoy live storytelling in a way that suits every student’s individual ability and highlights their strengths.”

Beyond nurturing future thespians, ETC’s teaching artists use visuals, coaching and role-playing to help students practice social emotional skills, verbal and nonverbal communication, innovation, critical thinking and more. Each student has an opportunity to perform for the class.

“This program has helped our students break out of their shells, try something new and discover a new hobby or passion,” said Gilbert A. Dater High School Intervention Specialist Elaine Niehauser. “They love receiving applause from their friends and teachers for trying their best.”

Dater has offered the Hunter Heartbeat program through ETC for at least six years. The program is also available at Aiken High School.