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Teacher mixes passion and profession with theater

Holding+a+copy+of+%27To+Kill+a+Mockingbird%2C%27+English+teacher+Cristalyn+Stokes+shares+her+passion+for+mixing+her+profession+with+theater.+%E2%80%9CI+think+that+everyone+should+have+some+sort+of+exposure+to+anything+musically+related%2C%E2%80%9D+Stokes+said.
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Teacher mixes passion and profession with theater

Holding a copy of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' English teacher Cristalyn Stokes shares her passion for mixing her profession with theater. “I think that everyone should have some sort of exposure to anything musically related,” Stokes said.

Holding a copy of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' English teacher Cristalyn Stokes shares her passion for mixing her profession with theater. “I think that everyone should have some sort of exposure to anything musically related,” Stokes said.

Vendela Busbee

Holding a copy of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' English teacher Cristalyn Stokes shares her passion for mixing her profession with theater. “I think that everyone should have some sort of exposure to anything musically related,” Stokes said.

Vendela Busbee

Vendela Busbee

Holding a copy of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' English teacher Cristalyn Stokes shares her passion for mixing her profession with theater. “I think that everyone should have some sort of exposure to anything musically related,” Stokes said.

Hartley Hill, Staff Writer

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It’s rehearsal, and voices fill the air. Girls are buzzing around, crafting costumes and warming up their voices in anticipation of their next big performance. Behind the curtains, English teacher Cristalyn Stokes is pulling the strings as she dedicates her time out of school in her second home: the theater.  

“I always knew I wanted to do something where I was making a direct impact on people’s lives,” Stokes said. 

After she attended college at the University of South Florida, Stokes worked with non-profits and corporate sales before she became involved in a career in the theater. 

“Friends and mentors said I had ‘the personality for sales, so try that,’” Stokes said. “I did, and I was successful, but I was miserable because I wasn’t seeing growth in people anymore. I was just seeing growth in numbers.” 

Thereafter, Stokes went back to working directly with kids by teaching. She taught at Wharton High School until she made the switch to Plant last year, making this her second year on staff as an English I teacher. 

“The most rewarding part of teaching is probably seeing the growth in students,” Stokes said. “The growth doesn’t necessarily have to be academic. It can be seeing them learn how to better interact with each other or with adults or feel more comfortable in themselves.” 

Not only does Stokes value education, but she also stresses the importance of the arts. Stokes incorporates this passion into her life by coaching Danceros and directing a performing group of girls at Entertainment Revue. 

“I think that everyone should have some sort of exposure to anything musically related,” Stokes. “There are so many different things that we go through in life in the world today, and I think that music can be a great outlet for people to either identify with other people or to express themselves.” 

After growing up as a member in Entertainment Revue, Stokes took over when the former owner and director retired about four years ago. Her job involves booking, choreographing, producing and directing shows. 

“My proudest moment would be that my former director chose me to take over for her because there have been hundreds of girls to come through the group, and I was the first phone call she made,” Stokes said. “Knowing that I had the talent, drive and passion to carry on her legacy and for her to trust me with her baby, to keep this business going, would be my proudest achievement.” 

At Entertainment Revue, girls ranging from ages 5 to 18 are divided into three casts based on talent. The novice group performs about six shows a year, the intermediate level participates in 10-15 shows a year, and the professional cast puts on about 20 shows per year.  

“I wanted to work with kids before they were officially out on their own,” Stokes said. “These are the years that really count. I want to make whatever lasting impact and difference I can.” 

The casts perform medleys of songs and cater to different clients across Florida. For example, Entertainment Revue has an upcoming show at Halloween Spooktacular in Largo with a couple of Halloween-themed numbers. They are also opening with a patriotic medley at John’s Pass Seafood and Musical Festival. 

“The same way I try to get students to express themselves through writing at Plant, I try to get them to express themselves through music at Entertainment Revue,” Stokes said. 

Stokes teaches 185 students and directs about 70 girls at Entertainment Revue. 

“With teaching, working with the diverse levels of students I have at Plant helps me better prepare myself to work with the diverse levels of talent I have at Entertainment Revue,” Stokes said. “I think Entertainment Revue helped me here because rather than kids thinking of school as a stuffy classroom, I try my best to mix in multimedia and music as much as I can to help the curriculum come alive for students,” Stokes said. 

While working at Entertainment Revue, Stokes said she also plans to teach at Plant for a long time.  

“I love this school, the culture here and the people I work with,” Stokes said. “I would love to grow Entertainment Revue to be my primary job, but that is going to take a while to grow that business.” 

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