Ever wondered who orchestrates the awesome set pieces, the expert lighting, and the booming voices of the actors and actresses during all of Leesvilles awesome plays and musicals?
The answer is Jeannine Wrayno. Wrayno has taught tech theatre at LRHS for 17 years, and is still teaching her best for her students year after year. “It’s weird to think that, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been teaching for as long as some of my students have been alive’ so, I don’t know how that happened, I blinked!” said Wrayno. Wrayno has a sizable influence among the students at LRHS enrolled in her classes, as well as the theatre arts classes across the hall.
Wrayno’s fame is very positive among the students, who say that she is quite fun to work with. Students also say that Wrayno is caring and kind, giving them direction every step of the way. “She’s super cool, [as well as] very kind and caring,” says Kyla Dugdell, a student who has worked under the wing of Wrayno.
“A caring, outgoing, and all around nice person to be around. She welcomes all who wish to help in the shows,” says Marshall Wait, a student currently enrolled in theatre arts intermediate and has in the past worked with Wrayno on stage with lights and sound.
Wrayno cares deeply about her students, so it’s no surprise when she gets fired up when she sees a student being unsafe, which could be from a student running with scissors to standing under a heavy object. “[She’s] eccentric and fun, unless you’re unsafe, then she’s strict,” said Max Pollock, a student who worked with Wrayno on the stage’s lights.
Wrayno is always worried about her students and wishes that they would make smart decisions with their work, as well as making sure that they will not hurt themselves while giving the stage a tune up that will dazzle the audience during any performance that the Leesville Road Pride Productions puts on. “We’ve got saws, we’ve got box cutters, and there’s just too many chances for somebody to get hurt. In all of my 17 years of teaching, no one’s gotten seriously hurt in my class or in any of the productions. The reason for that is because I’m strict [when people are unsafe…],” says Wrayno. She prides herself on her outstanding record of safe students.
“[She’s] super welcoming and supportive. She is the department chair for tech theatre and helps support us all,” says Matthew Hurley, a teacher for the theatre arts department. It appears that Wrayno’s claim to fame is a nice atmosphere and a warm smile. Every student interviewed had experienced Wrayno in one way or another, and all of them had a positive thing to say about her.
Wrayno appears to have a good style of teaching because she tells her students to let their inner dork shine while in her class. “Most of my students know that I come in and, as I tell them, let my inner dork shine in the hopes that you let your inner dork shine, and hopefully you have something in your life you are passionate about and can be dorky about, and it’s okay to all be dorky together.” said Wrayno. She has the best interests in mind for her students and her peers, as well as a very healthy mindset for how to best teach her techies.
The set for the upcoming fall production, “Radium Girls” is starting on September 26, and sounds like it will be amazing. “It’s not exactly like ‘Yo Vikings’ but a lot of it is movable, a lot of it is on wheels, there are a few double-sided set pieces, but it’s going to be very cool,” says Wrayno. Even though this set piece as well as past set pieces have been amazing, Wrayno has trouble choosing which one she likes best. “A: there’s a lot of stuff to choose from, and B: it’s like choosing your favorite kid. I’m not a parent myself, but, as a teacher, I feel kind of like a secondary parent a lot of times because I’ve had a lot of kids in my class,” says Wrayno.
The tech theatre department has fun while they work on the stage, such as telling stories in class, playing a game, or even just having a little chat before they dive deep into their work. She also sometimes reaches out to Leesville alumni to help out with the production of sets and work on the stage. Wrayno compares them to one big, happy family, in and out of the classroom. “One of the really cool things was on the set of ‘Chicago’, I reached out to some alumni of the school who have been graduates for eight years and basically said, ‘Hey guys, the set’s really big, we could use a couple strong guys, could you come and help out?’ What’s really cool is that within a few weeks notice, most of them had dropped everything and came and helped us, which was really awesome,” says Wrayno.
Wrayno can not only be seen in her classroom and behind the scenes. She is also seen helping out with sound and lights around the school for big events. “I kinda am the unofficial sound expert of the building, so if there’s a big event in the gym or in the senior assembly, I’ll help with sound for that, and if there’s anything happening in the auditorium, either my student technicians or I will have some kind of hand in it if it needs any sound or lights support,” said Wrayno. In that retrospect, Wrayno will help out with any event that she can get her hands on, as well as a teacher in need of tech assistance close by.
Wrayno is the tech wizard of the main and Murphy Building who will continue to teach her students about new ways to help out behind the scenes of productions. Her students hold her teaching style and connection with them in high regard as a great teacher. “The best part of working here is that no two days are the same. There’s always something different and new and challenging. We also have some amazing kids. I love that we have this family vibe, not just in the theatre department, but in the whole arts hallway, and it’s just a really supportive atmosphere. It’s not like that in every school or profession, so I know I’m really lucky to have that,” said Wrayno.