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Ozarks Life: Dr. Allison Fleetwood is a busy, inspirational teacher

Nixa’s teacher of the year oversees three high school productions while helping bring national acts to Nixa
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 8:28 AM CDT|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 2:14 PM CDT
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NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - Over the past few weeks, local school districts have been announcing and celebrating their teachers of the year.

A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others. Dr. Fleetwood, Nixa’s teacher of the year, has been that candle for the high school oftentimes burning at both ends.

“Best teacher I’ve ever had,” Nixa theater student Cameron Donnell said.

“Dr. Fleetwood’s just been this mother,” recent graduate Cooper Carson said, “she has just cared for all of us.”

“She’s done so many wonderful things,” Nixa theater student Alyssa Schmidly said, “and everyone loves her.”

“I’ve learned so much,” recent graduate Kelsey Cook said. “I actually want to go into theater education myself.”

Education comes naturally for Dr. Fleetwood who comes from a family of teachers.

“Seeing these kids grow and change and become more self-confident is what I love about teaching,” Dr. Allison Fleetwood said.

She fell in love with acting at the age of nine. She brings that sense of wonder, awe, and inspiration to her students and faculty. Those who’ve been will tell you that a Nixa High School musical is unlike any other.

“They will raise the bar for themselves if they know the expectation is high,” Dr. Fleetwood said. “Sometimes it’s a little hard because you have kids coming in that are 14. We’re working with 14, 15, and 16-year-olds.”

This past year, Fleetwood’s 14th at Nixa, they took on an all-time classic “Singing in the Rain.” And it was complete with singing in the rain inside the theater.

“Having it rain on stage was just magical,” Cook said.

“I couldn’t see a better way to end off that stage’s history,” Carson said.

It didn’t matter if the stage got a little warped because this was the last show at the high school theater.

“If we’re gonna go out,” Schmidly said, “we’re gonna go out with a bang. And it ended up being so much fun.”

“It was really cool,” Donnell said. “That final night that we had, and all the rain coming down and all the seniors crying, it was an amazing memory.”

New memories will be made just down the hall. The new Aetos Center is coming along nicely.

“Yeah, this will be a lot of fun,” Donnell said.

“We’ve loved this old theater for so long,” Schmidly said, “but it’s opening a new chapter.”

“(The Aetos Center) is really going to be a catalyst to just make a bigger, better program for our students and our families,” rD. Fleetwood said.

Along with coming in early and staying late while watching over three productions a year, Dr. Fleetwood is also on the Aetos Council. She helps scout and sign performances from all over the nation for this new gem of Nixa.

“Having shows coming in and high school shows,” Cook said, “there’s going to be something for everyone to watch and love.”

“We can make sure that we’re really appealing to the needs of the community,” Dr. Fleetwood said, “but also give them some opportunity that maybe they haven’t had before.”

“It’s an absolutely incredible thing that will greatly improve our community,” Schmidly said.

While these national shows are important she is making sure her students are not forgotten.

“If we bring in a choreography-heavy show, and we can bring in their choreographer to work with our students for a day, that’s amazing,” Fleetwood said. “If they have some neat tech effects, can we have them come in and do a talkback with their students on the tech?”

And like we said, burning it at both ends, Dr. Fleetwood somehow found time during all of this to complete her doctorate in Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction. She did her dissertation study on arts integration.

“When I started digging into it,” Dr. Fleetwood said, “it was like, why are we not doing this? And the reason we’re not doing it is we don’t know how; we don’t have the training to do it. And our days are consumed.”

Just one example is taking choreography into the second grade at Mathews Elementary. A simple dance helping kids learn how to read the face of a clock.

“Nixa elementary teachers are absolutely amazing,” Dr. Fleetwood said. “My goal is to really make that personal connection with curriculum because then it’s just meaningful; they’ll remember it.”

“Here is a different way to learn,” Cook said, “that’s maybe better and just something to help kids understand things instead of just memorizing them. I think it’s a great step.”

“I think all students should have the chance to experience theatre in some shape or form,” Carson said. “Because it just expands your mind and your creativity in ways that you can never imagine.”

“I love that I have the best job in the world,” Dr. Fleetwood said.

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