With a diverse track record, Elaine Maykowski encourages students to high levels of talent.
In her 24th year of teaching and 17th year at Rampart High School, the production/drama instructor started her career at District 20 as a choir director, leading a program involving more than 300 students, showing success at many All State Choir competitions. Over time, she has slowly built the theater program.
Rampart Principal Gil Bierman, who nominated Maykowski for the Distinguished Arts Teacher Award, said it is remarkable to see the changes that the program has gone through.
“We think the role of performing arts gives them (students) a rich well-rounded experience, especially when they have such a good teacher,” Bierman said. “She loves kids, she loves theater, she loves music. She is an incredible teacher.”
Maykowski is director of the school’s musicals, plays and children’s theater productions. A few productions she’s directed include “The Fantasticks,” “Peter Pan” and Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”
There’s also a variety show, which involves a cast of between 80 and 100 students, Maykowski said. It is for any student who has the courage to come and audition.
Maykowski applies lessons learned in other classes to her work. A physics teacher helped with “Peter Pan,” allowing students to fly around the stage, Bierman said.
Maykowski also gets involved with the lightning and stage crews. The lighting is based on mathematics and trigonometry and students can be found pulling out their calculators to determine the angle to cut pieces of wood.
“It’s a chance for kids to learn in a different environment that is just as challenging and has just as much of an intellectual side to it,” Maykowski said.
She also has created an art/theater/tech class for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program.
Maykowski said she directs more complicated performances for the advanced acting and technical students — to challenge the students in areas where they are ready to grow.
“Kids go where they might never have gone, having a teacher like that,” Bierman said. “Obviously, she is a magnet for kids.”
Maykowski said she loves the variety, getting to research different cultures and the continuous learning she gets from her job.
“Kids who don’t like to read might be willing to read more in my class,” she said. “It is very reciprocal.”
In the words of a grateful parent, “her passion for student growth and her track record of leading students to ever higher levels of artistic performance are truly outstanding.”
In her spare time, Maykowski enjoys gardening and travels as much as she can during the summer. She has lived in the Springs since elementary school.