This is the fourth article in a series of profiles about each finalist for Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ 2021 Citywide Teacher of the Year. The citywide winner will be announced later this spring.
Christa Vogt teaches drama at Salem High School.
While attending graduate school at Old Dominion University during the late 90s, Vogt thought teaching would provide short-term employment until professional theater work was secured. So, under a provisional license, she was hired part-time to teach introductory level courses at Ocean Lakes High School. Vogt discovered that teaching was the perfect chance to not only to share her love of theater with young people, but also to encourage them to authentically express themselves. Teaching became a passion, and she’s satisfied it at Salem High School since 2013.
“Christa Vogt is a talented performing artist who aims to share her knowledge, experiences, and love of theater with her students,” said Principal Leeanne Turnbull. “Her goal is to provide a deep understanding that allows for meaningful learning experiences. Students are taught to take the focus off themselves and to connect with others and their community.”
Vogt believes her greatest contribution to education is teaching young people how to find their voice and maintains that the daily work required in theater training is a natural vehicle, allowing students to release emotional issues and leads to a new level of self-confidence. They learn that imperfection and mistakes are acceptable, how to advocate for their own needs and the needs of others, how to share ideas more freely, and trust in the growth process.
“Her students emerge from her class with an unshakable foundation in theater arts, undoubtedly,” wrote Salem HS dance teacher Ashley Whitlinger in Vogt’s Teacher of the Year application, “yet I believe her deepest and truest contribution is giving her students the means, the courage, and the support to find their own voices.”
Salem HS sophomore Kyleigh Wanzelak added that Vogt has all the qualities of an amazing teacher. “She’s kind, passionate, patient, a good listener, and has high expectations for her students. She inspires us to do better and to be better. Mrs. Vogt teaches her students how to be better people. She teaches us to not only empathize with others but also with ourselves.”
And it is that particular lesson that Vogt hopes students take with them into their futures. “I aim to prepare my students for a life in the arts, as a stay at home parent, a member of a globally recognized company, or whatever path they may choose,” she said. “Emotional safety is the foundation to their success.”