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Standout Spartan: Jalyn Wheatley

The Steward School
Having a blast at improv
(Photo by Jay Paul, courtesy of Richmond magazine)

When she was in high school, Upper School Social Studies Teacher Jalyn Wheatley (pictured at right) aspired to become a professional actor. She loved doing improv but left acting and became a history teacher. For years, she longed to get back into community theater, and when she moved to Richmond a couple of years ago, she decided to take the plunge. In January, Ms. Wheatley signed up for an improv class at Richmond’s Coalition Theater. Those first few classes were exciting—but they weren’t easy. 

“The most challenging part was getting over my fear of not being funny,” she said. “When you intentionally try to be funny, it always comes out forced.” At her first improv performance, she was nervous because she hadn’t performed in front of a live audience in more than 10 years. Soon, though, improv became easier … and more fun. Some of the Coalition Theater’s improv students, including Ms. Wheatley, were featured in a recent article in Richmond Magazine

“I constantly remind myself that I ‘perform’ every day in front of my students,” she said. “Although I enter each class with a lesson plan prepared, ultimately every class discussion is a form of improvisation.” 

Doing improv has reminded Ms. Wheatley to find joy in everyday experiences. 

“I became a teacher because I love the unpredictability of students. Plus, we need more silliness in the world, and hopefully I can bring that into my classroom.”

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