Sarah Sheppard Shaver
Sarah Sheppard Shaver received a BA in English and Theatre from McMurry University in Abilene, TX, and an MFA in Theatre Arts in Pedagogy and Performance from Texas Tech University. She became a Professor of Theatre in 2011 and Chair of the Theatre Department at PPSC in 2013.
How did you choose a career in your discipline? I always knew I wanted to be an educator. And it was in the collaborative process of making theatre that I felt alive.
What’s your favorite memory of your career as a student? I wrote a play as part of my honors thesis and my family and best friend drove 10 hours to come to see the performance. During Act 1, I got a tap on my shoulder and the director motioned for me to follow. Apparently, one of the actors had gotten a terrible case of food poisoning and could not go on with the show. The only person who would know the lines fast enough was me. So, I go backstage, throw on a costume, wig, and make-up, review the lines, and finish the performance. After the bow, I took off the wig and started the talkback session that was part of my thesis defense. It was a huge surprise for everyone!
What are you working on now? Outside of school, I continue to work in the community as a theatre director, costume designer, and performer. I’ve been working with Springs Ensemble Theatre and Theatreworks for the last dozen years. In December 2020, the Theatre department is doing Still/Moving, a collaborative installation project with Dance, Gallery, and Visual Arts. The plan is to have small groups of masked and distanced guided tours through several performance or art stations in and around our new Studio West building. We’re hoping to have a virtual component as well so that it is accessible.
What was your first “big break”? Getting the interview to be an adjunct instructor here was my big break. I was a wardrobe crew backstage at the FAC and one of the cast members said, “Oh hey! You’ve got an MFA, right? There’s a job opening at PPSC in the Theatre Department.” The rest is history.
What are some of your greatest or most recent professional achievements? I was selected as Faculty of the Year for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2018. That year I directed Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Being intentionally inclusive of diverse and marginalized populations in my work in the community and school is a life-long goal. This year, my undergrad, McMurry University honored me as Outstanding Alumni in Fine Arts. It’s so moving that my school has been following my career and is proud of my achievements almost 20 years later. Oh! I was chosen as one of the Artists-of-the-Day for October 2020 (#ArtsOctober 2020).
What subjects do you teach? Theatre Appreciation, Acting, Directing, Production, Development of Theatre (Greeks to Renaissance) and (Restoration to Modern), Script Analysis, Costume Design and Construction, and Make-up Design.
What is your favorite course to teach at PPCC…and why? Development of Theatre is one of my favorites. It’s a Theatre History class but we get to do a flipped classroom every unit. It’s so satisfying to see the students take ownership of creating class content in their own words with their own personalities. And it’s students who want to be there! They make sock puppets or masks for an Everyman staged reading, play report presentations for each unit. I had the most unexpectedly raucous viewing of Ibsen’s Seagull. Literally students yelling at Constantine on the screen. It’s my joy.
What’s the best part of teaching? Seeing my students out in the community succeeding!
What’s the worst? It makes me so sad/angry when students are lazy on assignments or plagiarize. It feels like a betrayal of my trust and confidence in them.
If you couldn’t have a career in your discipline, what would you do for a living? I think I would love to be a museum curator. My other happy place is in a museum. Any kind. Art, History, Science.
What are your hobbies? Microbrewing, thrift store shopping, home decorating, traveling.
Do you share your home with family or pets? I’ve been married to my college sweetheart David for 18 years now. He is my partner in every way. We have two adventurous, fierce, loving children, Liam and Viola. We also frequently host exchange students (this school year it is Bérengère from France!) and take in friends that are struggling, so our guest room is always full. Our greyhound Rooke passed away over the summer, so our hearts are still not ready to get another dog.
If you could spend the day with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Euripides, Molière, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, or Frida Kahlo would all be on the list.
Favorite book: Jane Eyre is my nostalgia comfort book. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is the book that changed the way that I think about everything.
Favorite artist, musician or writer: Georgia O’Keeffe paints the way my soul feels, listening to Queen always makes my mood better, Neil Gaimon and playwright Sarah Ruhl transport me to places weird and wonderful.
Favorite movie: Oh Lordy. It’s a toss-up between the 6-hour BBC Pride and Prejudice and Amélie.
Favorite food: Tacos are my love language. But really, anything with green chile.
If you could move anywhere, where would you go? I really love this community, but I’m gonna retire somewhere with affordable health care, museums, theaters, and spicy food.
Favorite quote: “It was only in the theatre that I lived.” --Oscar Wilde
What’s the one thing that most people don’t know about you? That I am an impostor. HAHAHA. Nay. A trickster goddess. I’ve fooled you all.
AJ Vafiades grew up in Colorado Springs and attended Colorado Springs Early College. She graduated from PPSC with an Associate of Arts in General Studies in May 2018.
What made you choose PPSC? My high school allowed me to attend college courses, which saved me a lot of time and money!
What was your best professional experience at PPSC? I was in a performance entitled Twilight: Los Angeles 1992. It was a mix of choreography and monologues to tell the stories of people who were interviewed during the riots. It was an honor to be a part of such an impactful performance.
What was your favorite course at PPSC? I took Dance Performance I&II. Those courses were by far my favorite, because they focused on choreography, with an emphasis on technique. We also got to perform in a showcase at the end of each semester.
Who had the biggest impact on your education? Definitely Sarah Shaver and Stephanie Kobes-Newcomb. They both helped me improve on my performing so much and helped me gain confidence.
What were your biggest challenges as a student? Being younger than the majority of the students in each class was challenging. I felt as though I was out of place and I was nervous to ask questions. However, almost every faculty member I had allowed me to feel welcome and encouraged learning.
What do you miss most about PPSC? The atmosphere. The intimate class sizes allow you to meet some amazing people from all different majors. I miss those friendships.
What advice would you give current students at PPSC? You made the right decision, coming to PPSC. Take your time. Education doesn’t have a time limit and you don’t need to rush it. Explore majors, interests, hobbies. University will still be there, should you choose to take it.
Where do you work now? I currently have two jobs. One, I work as an assistant for the Dean’s Office in the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am also a game associate at GameStop.
What was your first “big break”? Transferring to UCCS definitely opened a lot of doors. I was able to use everything I learned at PPSC and it allowed me to become valued there.
What are some of your greatest or most recent professional achievements? I am the student ethical ambassador for the Theatre and Dance Department, which means I help the chair with his speaker series and help facilitate live conversations. I also recently got hired to stage manage a production in the spring, after my graduation. Plus, I was able to get a waiver so that I may continue working in the Dean’s Office for one more semester, as a staff hire, instead of a student.
What kinds of professional/artistic/scholarly work are you doing now? I am Vice President of UCCS’ chapter of the Student Center for Public Trust, along with being an ethics ambassador. Both of these programs are run through the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative. I am also a Peak Ambassador for the Theatre and Dance Department, meaning I represent our department to the whole college at meetings, along with planning events.
What’s next in your career? I hope to pursue management. I am currently minoring in it and I have found a passion for coaching and encouraging people through their work. I want to continue to grow in that at the Dean’s office and GameStop and find a job I truly love. I am also thinking of going for my masters in business management as well.
If you couldn’t have your current career, what would you do for a living? I would own my own film company.
If you could spend the day with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Robin Williams.
Favorite book: The Eragon Series!
Favorite artist, musician or writer: Ted Dekker is my favorite writer for sure.
Favorite movie: The Sandlot 2.
Favorite food: Is hot chocolate a food? If not, then tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
If you could move anywhere, where would you go? London, England hands down.
Favorite quote: “Throw me to the wolves and I’ll return leading the pack.” -Katniss/Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games)
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? I was born deaf. My epilepsy caused me to have a miscommunication between my ears and my brain when I was born, so I could not hear until I was about six months or so.
Hollyann McCann is double majoring in Secondary English Education and in Theatre. She is planning on teaching high school. She will finish PPSC in spring of 2020 and transfer to UCCS, planning on graduating spring 2023. Hollyann’s father is an officer in the Air Force, so she moved around a lot, living in Washington DC and just outside of Seattle. Since eighth grade, she’s lived in Colorado Springs and went to Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument.
Did you grow up with siblings or pets? My brother is two years younger than I am, so I’ve always had him as a friend when I moved. My little sister was born when I was eight. Before I was born, my parents got a dog named Apollo, so I grew up with him. He died when I was in third grade. We got a new dog when I was twelve named Shasho and she’s still around.
What was your best experience in high school? I was the Drama Club’s vice president my senior year. It was just so fun to be a part of everything, to plan parties, to be a resource for people, and to work with my best friend.
Who was your most influential high school teacher? I got to be a part of the Educational Field Experience program, so I graded and tutored for an algebra class. The teacher just really had a heart for her students and did everything that she could to help them, whether that was in scheduling, supplying resources, or helping kids apply math to real careers. I learned that teaching is more than conveying information, but love and support.
Why did you choose PPSC? Quite honestly, it was for financial reasons. Not only would I be paying much less for my education, but I could stay at home and not have to pay for room and board either. That doesn’t mean I’m “getting what I’m paying for”, so to speak. Having taken three semesters of classes, I can unequivocally say my education at PPSC has been incredible. All of my teachers have given me a good, memorable class, and they care so much about their students.
What’s your best experience at PPSC so far? Definitely working as the Assistant Stage Manager/Assistant Director/Dramaturg/Publicist of PPSC’s production of Twelfth Night.
What’s your greatest achievement as a student? What are you most proud of? I’d have to say it’s getting so much school done before college. I came into PPSC with 32 credits already and that definitely helped me take the classes I wanted instead of getting bogged down with gen-eds.
Why did you choose your major? I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always been an actor. It’s no stretch to put those things together.
What was your favorite course at PPSC so far…and why? I was a part of the theatre Production class, in which we put on the Twelfth Night production. I have always loved being a part of a show, but this was the first time where I got to be backstage and I realized how much better a fit it was for me. I learned so much and I’d love to do it again.
What do you plan to do after graduation/completion? My plan originally was just to go get a job at an American high school, and that may still happen. But after spending a year abroad in France, I may return there and teach English. And I could travel the world teaching English.
What’s the best part of being a student? What I love about being a college student is my ability to do things I really want to do. Last semester and this semester, I got to take four theatre classes and always enjoy a good discussion in literature. I really love to learn but it’s so much more fulfilling to learn about something you’re really interested in.
What’s the worst? Obviously, it’s the other side of that coin—taking those classes you don’t want to take. I don’t ever think learning cellular biology will be helpful in my future, and it was really hard too.
What advice would you give to new PPSC students? Take the time to experiment, and have an open mind to the classes or extra-curriculars to take. Even though I took four theatre classes last semester, my philosophy class might have been my favorite.
If you could spend the day with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Jane Austen. Not only was she an incredible writer, she was so intelligent. I’d love to just talk to her for a little bit, about literature, and writing, but mostly make fun of people together.
Favorite book: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, closely followed by Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
Favorite artist, musician or writer: Mumford & Sons
Favorite movie: Greta Gerwig’s Little Women
Favorite food: Warm chocolate chip cookies
If you could move anywhere, where would you go? I lived in the south of France for a year, and I’m really missing it. I’m hoping to go back someday, but I’d also like to be a bit of a nomad, traveling as it comes.
Favorite quote: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of The Ring
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? I speak French.
I come from a long line of fighters, my maternal grandfather was the toughest guy
I ever knew. World War II veteran. He killed twenty men and then spent the rest of
the war in an Allied prison camp... My father battled blood pressure and obesity all
his life... different kind of fight.
I'm a deer hunter. I go all the time with my dad. One thing about deer: they have very good vision. One thing about me: I'm better at hiding, than they are at vision.
I come from a long line of fighters, my maternal grandfather was the toughest guy I ever knew. World War II veteran. He killed twenty men and then spent the rest of the war in an Allied prison camp... My father battled blood pressure and obesity all his life... different kind of fight.
In the Schrute family, we have a tradition where when the male has sex with another woman, he is rewarded with a bag of wild oats left on his doorstep by his parents. You can use those oats to make oatmeal, bread, whatever you want, I don't care. They're your oats.
Studies have shown that more information gets passed through water cooler gossip than through official memos - which puts me at a disadvantage because... I bring my own water to work.