Ford theater teacher honored by state forensics group

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 27, 2019

 Henry Ford II High School theater director Kirstin Carolin recently was named the Michigan Speech Coaches Inc. Theatre Coach of the Year.

Henry Ford II High School theater director Kirstin Carolin recently was named the Michigan Speech Coaches Inc. Theatre Coach of the Year.

Photo provided by Utica Community Schools

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Paige Caldwell remembers the days back when she was a student at Malow Junior High School and Kirstin Carolin was her theater teacher.

The experience was so rewarding that years later, Caldwell nominated her former teacher for a statewide theater coach award.

“This woman deserves the credit for the things she does,” Caldwell said.

In May, Michigan Speech Coaches Inc. named Carolin its Theatre Coach of the Year at its spring conference and tournament on Mackinac Island.

Carolin said she was honored to be recognized by her peers in the speech community.

“It’s a community I’ve grown up in,” she said. “To be recognized by people I’ve known my whole life is really and truly an honor.”

Carolin, 48, is currently the theater director at Henry Ford II High School, and she also helps with the forensics team on the side. She said she has been doing debate, forensics and theater instruction in Utica Community Schools for about 20 years.

Carolin said she started doing theater and forensics when she was 14 years old, “and I loved it so much that I never left.”

“Every single skill that I needed in college and in life, honestly, I learned in debate,” she said. “The research; also, the ability to articulate my position, the ability to understand other people’s position; the ability to empathize with other people’s characters — they’re the most valuable things I’ve ever learned, and the ability to teach other people how to do that is amazing.”

She said her classes and instruction train students to collaborate, communicate face to face, do research, find quality sources and empathize with other people — skills that are even more important in a more technical world.

“If you talk to employers, those are skills that they’re looking for,” she said.

According to UCS officials, the school district’s theater program aims to help students learn to work collaboratively as a team.

“We are proud that Mrs. Carolin has been recognized by her peers for her work and commitment to inspire students,” Superintendent Christine Johns said in a statement.

Although Caldwell graduated from Eisenhower High School in 2013, she continued to serve Carolin as an assistant coach on the side, over at Ford. Caldwell said Carolin’s teaching style gives kids a chance to tell stories in an open, honest environment.

“One of the most incredible things about Kirstin was her ability to make a safe space for everyone and to foster the growth of all students,” Caldwell said.

“And she is just a marvel of a human. She deserves the award every year.”

Learn more about Henry Ford II High School by visiting ford.uti cak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1600. Learn more about Michigan Speech Coaches Inc. by visiting michiganspeechcoaches.org.

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