Bobbi Kidder uses drama
Watching Bobbi Kidder teach and communicate with her students, it’s clear she loves her work and cares about helping people build successful lives.
“Bobbi accepts everyone for who they are. She’s such a kind person and she draws people out and helps them find inner strength,” said Ellen Johnson. A former RCC student, Johnson continues to draws upon public speaking skills she acquired in Kidder’s speech and English classes.
Kidder has taught speech and theater arts at Rogue for the past 26 years
“To me, the best aspect of teaching is seeing the creative spark that happens when students recognize ‘I can do that,’ ” Kidder said.
Before moving to Oregon in 1983, Kidder taught reading and drama to young gang members in Los Angeles, where she first realized the potential power of drama therapy.
She has published numerous articles and two books on drama. She also has written, produced, directed, and acted in many plays, a number of which have involved her husband, Ed Gangner.
Kidder was a founding member of the Hamazons improvisational comedy troupe and an artist in resident for the Arts Council of Southern Oregon. She also sang with the band “Ranger Joe.”
“I’m always learning and discovering new ways to make it all work better and deliver information and teach more effectively,” Kidder said.
RCC gave Ellen Johnson career basics
Working as development manager for Options for Southern Oregon has allowed former RCC student Ellen Johnson the opportunity to blend her expertise, beliefs, and experience into a meaningful livelihood.
Over the past three years she and a colleague have generated more than $5.5 million in grants for Options, a non-profit agency that provides a wide range of community mental health services. Their successes included $2.5 million to build Creekside Center for urgently needed office space and programs.
“I feel pretty proud of our accomplishments. I like what I do and I like doing things for other people,” said Johnson, who also helps handle the agency’s public relations and marketing. “I enjoy research — I learn so much — and I love connecting funders and programs.”
Johnson frequently utilizes abilities honed at Rogue Community College, where she enrolled in 1999. Prior to college, she’d owned and operated several businesses, including a restaurant, for more than 20 years.
“I had been in business for myself a long time, but I’d always wanted to do something in the writing field after my kids got out of school. They encouraged me,” she recalled. “Getting a degree seemed important in getting a writing job. I love education and school, so it was easy to go back.”
She selected RCC for proximity and affordability. “And I knew RCC instructors who spoke highly of the school as a good program for non-traditional students,” Johnson said. “I feel very fortunate to live where a community college is available.”
Distance classes — online and telecourses — were convenient, she said, “and the Counseling Center was always very helpful.” But Bobbi Kidder’s speech and English classes were a turning point for Johnson.
“Public speaking was always very scary for me,” she said. “Bobbi is totally different in the way she approaches speech and deals with student anxiety. I saw people turn completely away from fear. Bobbi accepts everyone for who they are. She’s such a kind person, and she draws people out and helps them find inner strength.”
Johnson draws on Kidder’s messages now when making public presentations. “I still get nervous, but not like before,” she said. After attending RCC, Johnson transferred to Southern Oregon University, graduating in 2003 with a degree in English and writing. “I’m glad I went to RCC first,” she added. “It gave me a good base to move forward, and I felt well prepared for a higher level of classes.”
Johnson, who appreciates how the two schools have joined forces, was initially dual enrolled and says the transition was seamless. While completing a community outreach project for an SOU grant writing class, Johnson successfully wrote a $15,000 grant for Grants Pass High School’s Performing Arts Center.
“I was kind of hooked after that,” she recalled. She went on to work as an independent grant writer and fundraiser coordinator, including orchestrating Option’s holiday festival. She faced a difficult decision, though, when asked in 2006 to join the Options staff. “I’d always been self-employed, but as I got to know the staff and the consumers, I was impressed. I really like it here. The Options staff are amazing.”
Johnson, whose three children are now 24, 26 and 30, still does outside consulting, including working for Dogs for the Deaf. And she has started a private non-profit — the Dragonfly Foundation — providing free consulting for smaller non-profits.
“My dream is to have an education and resource center where nonprofits can come and get free access to resources and information. And I’d like to promote volunteerism, starting at an early age.”
One huge lesson Johnson says she’s learned in life: “It never hurts to ask.”
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