A safe stage

Kelly+Schnider+has+been+working+as+the+KHS+drama+teacher+and+director+since+2006.

Tess Hubbard

Kelly Schnider has been working as the KHS drama teacher and director since 2006.

When students walk into KHS’ drama classroom, they come face-to-face with a bedazzled mask and a personality that sparkles just as much. Kelly Schnider, drama teacher and director, says that she always tries to be energetic so that her students feel welcome. However, if someone saw Schnider during her sophomore year and sat her down next to her current self, they wouldn’t even be able to tell that the two Kellys were the same person. During her high school years, she wasn’t much of a social butterfly. While she wanted to branch out, Schnider said she didn’t have the confidence to do so. 

“I was super shy in high school. I was really academic and good at school, but I think I just wanted to be somebody else,” Schnider said. “I actually had a brace [for scoliosis] when I was in middle school through junior high, the best time to be different.” 

Schnider said she didn’t feel comfortable in her high school drama class at first. She hated the idea of putting herself in the line of criticism. However, as she started getting more involved with acting, Schnider realized that, in an ironic way, portraying a fictional character helped her grow more comfortable with who she was. 

“I thought that if I could play this confident person on stage then maybe, I could pull off being confident [in real life],” Schnider said. “I found people I liked to work with. The more you do that and [the more the people you’re around] accept you for who you are, the more you’re OK with being who you are ”

When Schnider became the drama teacher at KHS in 2006, she said she hoped to create a safe space where others could feel the same sense of belonging. Schnider said high school is a time in life where one feels the pressure to blend in, but she hopes to cultivate a culture of individuality in her room. To students, she’s a source of encouragement.

I knew right off the bat that she was going to be a really incredible person.”

— Lucy Schene

“I met Ms. Schnider my eighth grade year. I knew right off the bat that she was going to be a really incredible person,” Lucy Schene, senior, said. She met Schnider while auditioning for her fall mainstage play, and has been starring in shows since. “Getting to know her has proven how dedicated she is and how much effort she puts into the plays.”

Linc Luke, senior, said Schnider genuinely cares for her students. While acting in her first ever play, Luke, dressed as a hummingbird, tripped and rolled across the stage three times during her solo monologue. Schnider checked in on her and encouraged her to keep going.

“When I first met her, she intimidated me, but that changed,” Luke said. “Her checking in on me really meant a lot. She was so sweet and helpful. It made me feel a lot more comfortable with the play.” 

Schnider’s passion for the program and her students is evident, her energy remaining high despite late-night rehearsals. Schene recounted a time she went to Schnider, unsure about what to do with her character, Wednesday, for the KHS production of “The Addams Family.” Opening night was coming up, and nerves were getting the best of her.

“[When giving notes], she was so reassuring and made me feel like, ‘OK, I got this,’” Schene said. “It meant a lot to hear a director say that I was doing a good job.”

I want [my class] to be a way for them to experience a little magic.”

— Kelly Schnider

Schnider said she wants students to be able to grow, even if theater isn’t something they wish to pursue. Her goal is to create the same environment that helped her to find out who she was.

“I want [my class] to be a way for them to experience a little magic,” Schnider said. “I love to watch them find something that helps them be confident. [It’s rewarding to] watch them grow into who they are.”