Giving Compass' Take:

• Among the push for kids to focus on STEM education, instructors stress the value of theatre class for young people to gain various soft skills that are transferable to the workplace. 

•What is the value of good soft skills in career advancement?

• Read about how arts education has the power to heal and promote well-being. 

Even in an era when science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs are being lauded and encouraged among students, theater programs are still championed by many districts and schools.

Students who participate in theater can gain a number of soft skills — communication, listening skills and self-confidence, to name just a few — which can’t be easily measured by standardized tests and yet play crucial roles in how graduates may fare when they enter the workforce. Most students who participate in are in middle and high school, as just 4% of elementary schools have theater programs, Julie Cohen Theobald, executive director of the international Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), told Education Dive.

This is key for when students eventually leave school and start a future career in any field, as skills developed in the theater, such as teamwork and self-reflection, are among those employers are seeking in prospective applicants.

And, according to a 2018 job outlook survey, while these skills are desirable in potential employees, only about 42% of employers rated recent college graduates as competent in work ethic and professionalism.

Some of what students walk away with is not just academic abilities, but also a new understanding of themselves. In just two years, Ripley has seen students at Bayfield High School, who were recruited to help with the school’s first play, grow into confident, young adults. And in doing so, they've helped steer the program and bring younger peers into the wings — or onstage.

Read the full article about the value of theatre by Lauren Barack at Education Dive