HHS teacher puts the “drama” in high school

By Staff Writer: Lexi Petroi1476589_10151790437756733_1245749057_n

Passion flows through the veins of Amanda Malo, Howell High School’s Drama teacher. From the love that she has for teaching, to the love she has for the performing arts, there’s “nowhere else she’d rather be.”

She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Ann Arbor and her family moved to North Carolina when she was 13 years old. She graduated high school and college, attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a theatre major. 

“I was a theatre major straight through. There’s nothing else in the world that I’ve ever wanted to do,” says Malo

She then moved to New York City and lived there for a couple years before moving back to Michigan.

Malo has been involved in theatre since she was ten. Her very first play was “Charlotte’s Web” starring as Charlotte. 

“I have probably done a play every year since then,” says Malo.

Her husband, Chad, is a Special Education teacher. They have a six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who in kindergarten, named after “Charlotte’s Web” of course. 

Malo started teaching at Howell in 2002 as her first teaching job and she’s been here ever since. While at HHS, Malo earned a master’s degree in literacy from Michigan State University. Malo has brought her own vision to the drama department since arriving here over 12 years ago.

“When I started here they only did one musical a year. Since that time, we have added a straight play, a student production, brought in professionals to lead workshops, attend drama days at different universities and take field trips,” Malo says. “I absolutely love teaching here. I love the community. I love my students, the administration, and my fellow teachers. I’m very proud to be here.”

Drama is a huge part of Malo’s life. She’s so passionate in what she does. She produces every play that Howell High School puts on, which is far from an easy task. Day and night she puts forth a tremendous amount of effort to teach her students and help their dreams come true. 

“I hope to expose my students to new & different things in theatre. I need to challenge myself as a teacher in order to always have the department grow. My favorite part about drama is that I cannot pick one thing. I think it teaches so many absolutely wonderful things that you can’t get in other classrooms. I believe it teaches problem solving, I believe it teaches working in a group. I know it sounds cliché, “the show must go on”, but theatre people know that they have to get the job done. I believe that it teaches them to think differently. I believe it gives you confidence. I believe you get to explore different relationships and learn about different people that you just normally wouldn’t in everyday life.”

Malo’s students look up to her. They see her as someone who is confident and caring. She always tries to connect with each and every student because she wants to be that person that they go to for help. Malo wants to be the person that brings out the best in people. This teacher pushes her students out of their “comfort zones”, because she knows that they’re capable of more than they give their selves credit for. 

Senior Rachel Reddick says, “Malo is one of the sweetest teachers at the school. Just her presence helped me so much with my social anxiety my sophomore year in Drama I.”

“I love my students,” Malo repeats.

Junior Robin Uicker says, “She’s like no other teacher I’ve had. She’s inspiring and funny and trustworthy and just so amazing. She’s willing to help out her students in every single area of their lives. She is honestly one of my heroes and I aspire to be like her someday. What she is doing is truly an amazing sight to see.”

Malo is a fun but serious teacher. She gets the job done while making it a fun and easy going environment for all. Students walk in and out of her classroom with a smile from ear to ear.

“I just had Malo last semester, and she is one of the most caring and hilarious of people,” says senior Lane Heximer. 

A former HHS graduate reflects upon his own experiences in the drama program.

“Amanda Malo made my high school experience! Whenever I wanted to complain or seek advice about anything she was always the person to turn to. I loved her as my go-to and I miss her and her lessons everyday! She helped mold me to the person that I am today, I just wish that I was still a part of a theatre family like the one she put together so many years ago,” Greg Metzler shares.

Malo even is an inspiration to people who aren’t even one of her students.
Senior Emily Gerecke says, “I have never had Malo as a teacher but she is still the nicest and sweetest person I know.” 

Malo has touched so many people in such positive ways. Throughout the years, there has been nothing but positive things said about her. 

“I’ve known Malo since seventh grade and from the first time I met her until current day she never ceases to inspire me, better me, and bring joy to my life. Working with her in shows has been amazing and I wish to work with her for the rest of high school and after. She is just a wonderful person,” says sophomore, Bridget Wilkin.

Malo is excited for next school year’s productions. “Next year we are doing “The Wizard of Oz” 11/20-11/23, and “Comedy of Errors” in April. I am excited about both of these productions because they both bring something new. We are bringing in a professional flying company for “Oz” and will be flying certain characters. “Errors” is a Shakespearean farce that I am hoping to incorporate live music and dance into,” Malo shares. 

As the interview came to a close, Malo adds, “To students that might be interested in Drama, there is a place for everyone. You don’t necessarily have to be a performer, you could be backstage, you could do organizational things. There are a lot of different options so come check it out at anytime. It’s a very welcoming community, and the students would be happy to show you the ropes.”