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Drama teacher Linda Kislingbury to retire after 19 years

There are posters on every wall of the room and collages composed of color photos of girls in bright dresses and red stage-lipstick and boys in suits with slicked back hair.

These posters are from the 89 plays that drama teacher Linda Kislingbury has directed in her almost 19 years at San Marin.

Kislingbury will retire at the end of the fall semester.

She always knew that her passion was theatre and was inspired to study drama in college because of her high school drama teacher.

“Mr. Alan Knight is the reason I am teaching Drama,” she said. “He was my drama teacher in high school, and I loved him so much and he became a friend to all of us. That’s what I wanted; I wanted to be like him and I think I have.”

Kislingbury has remained connected with many of her former students. She can tell you what every person in her numerous photos is doing now. Many students are still involved in drama, while many are not.

Noah Everly, class of 2013, continues performing and credits Kislingbury for this. “Ms. K was the reason I kept acting after high school,” Everly said. “She is a huge influence in my life and if it weren’t for her and Craig Pitti (my basketball coach) I would have never graduated nor would I be in the position that I am in today.”

Regardless of life’s trajectory, Kislingbury believes that drama teaches the skills needed to excel at anything.

“Definitely do drama,” Kislingbury said. “If you know how to do drama, you can do anything you want in life. Any company you go to, you learn all the skills right here. Oral communication skills, leadership skills, solving problems on the spot, working collaboratively, everything they want you to learn on [the SM graduate profile graphic] you learn in this class.”

Rachel Smith, class of 2012, is now an educator.

“I use my theater skills everyday. I love to teach the youth I work with the theater skills that I was taught in high school and in college. I learned so much from Ms. K. Every time I am having trouble with a youth opening up I think of what Ms. K would do,” Smith said.

Both Everly and Smith described times where they had the opportunity to laugh and bond in Kislingbury’s class.

While laughter was common, the class also tackled tough issues. Kislingbury directed The Laramie Project, a play about the brutal murder of a gay teenager. Administration and parents came to Kislingbury with concerns regarding the content of the play but Kislingbury persuaded them that the play held a valuable lesson for students because of its message about hate and intolerance.

She began her years teaching at San Marin after the drama teacher quit the day before school started in the summer of 2000. From there, she took on more aspects of the program which came to include a Technical Theatre class, beginning classes and an advanced class at night. She also ended up as the department head where she worked to establish the San Marin Arts and Technical Arts, smARTt, program moniker. She ran several smARTt days to advertise San Marin arts to prospective students. She wanted to advertise San Marin in the same way Novato High School was able to advertise The Marin School of the Arts.

In 2008, San Marin’s Advanced Drama class was selected to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the United States team.

“We were one of the 90 schools selected out of 1600 across the United States to go,” said Kislingbury. “It was a huge undertaking.”

Kislingbury has many fond memories of her time at San Marin and is proud of her students.

“I think the greatest part is seeing the graduates who are doing amazing things,” Kislingbury said.

Even though she will be retired, Kislingbury does not plan to step away from teaching entirely. She hopes she will be able to come back to guest direct or substitute somewhere down the line. She is looking forward to being able to travel, vacation and relax.

“I do get sad, but I know I need a break,” Kislingbury said.

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