Meet Amy Patel, Madisonian and married mom of two wonderful boys, drama teacher, and fellow thespian. It doesn’t matter if she’s in the classroom or on the stage, this local mom is a beloved advisor, teacher, friend, performer, and sings a mean “Wagon Wheel”.
Teaching and theatre, in that order. Luckily she found a career that allows her to pursue both! She is the Theatre teacher at James Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama. Her vision is to inspire passion within her students for acting, directing, and writing; to instill in them confidence and allow them to find their creative outlet. But woman cannot live by teaching alone, so every couple of years she finds herself back onstage, answering the call of many thespians before her.
Amy was bitten by the acting bug in high school after playing a transformative role as Angela, a girl who is abused by her father and then runs away and becomes a prostitute. Amy found new depths of empathy in playing a role so outside of her normal sphere, and the feeling of unlocking deeper emotion through acting stuck with her.
Amy found her unique career by asking herself, “What can I NOT DO WITHOUT?” In asking a different version of “What do I want to do?” it helped her to find the best path for her. I loved this bit of advice.
Amy was pretty honest that it is very difficult to find balance; despite trying very hard (as I think we can all understand). But she found a good solution; have her family share in her passion projects. “It does help that my husband and boys enjoy the theatre, too. Sandy and I go to shows together, and the boys do theatre at their school. Whenever I can, I put my boys in my shows, too. We can share the experience, and I get to spend more time with them that way!
Sometimes I feel like my home time or free time is “feast or famine.” Sometimes I am at school until 10 or 11 at night, but during the summer I’m home for two months! It’s usually one extreme or the other. I just try to “be where my feet are,” as they say. My favorite necklace says, ‘Be here. Be now.’ I need that reminder sometimes.”
Her Biggest Challenge
Amy faced a crossroads when the school she first taught at faced substantial budget cuts that essentially cut the Fine Arts. She went from teaching a mix of English and Theatre, to only English classes. And while she is a self-prescribed “grammar nerd” and enjoyed teaching English, the absence of theater meant that her passion was no longer a part of the equation, and without it, she felt lost. So with that she said goodbye to that school with sadness, took a year-long sabbatical, observed classrooms around the USA, spent quality time with her family, and found the position that she dreamt about, a full-time theatre teacher.
Her Perfect Saturday
“Ahh, sleep in, read, play outside with the boys and Sandy, go to dinner with Sandy and some friends and hear some local music.”
Funniest Mom Moment
“There are too many! The first that comes to mind is when the boys were babies. They are only 19 months apart, so I had two in diapers, one on each hip for a long time. Once I took them into a public restroom, and firmly told them, “Don’t touch ANYthing” then sighed and finished, “And don’t LICK anything either!” just as Connery stuck his tongue out toward the wall.”
Top Parenting Tips
- Never pass up an offer to snuggle
- Apologize when you screw up
- Set up a Google calendar. Practical advice that my hubby and I both share – it automatically syncs us up as a family.
Rocket City Favorites
“I love, love, love Lowe Mill. Walking through during Artist’s Market, going to a Concert on the Dock, trying to decide between a Craisy Chicken Sandwich or Bad Apple from Happy Tummy…
Of course, I also love taking the boys to the Botanical Gardens or up to Monte Sano or Rainbow Mountain.
Sandy (her hubby) and I love Stem & Stein in Madison. It’s kind of our “Cheers.”
The outdoor Concerts in the Park in Huntsville, or Concerts at the Gazebo in Madison are perfect ways to spend an evening in the summer.”
Name the song you think of when you need to…
Because you can always learn a lot from a person based on their personal music score!
- Get your gameface on: “My Shot” – Hamilton (The Musical)
- Recover from heartbreak: “I Saw What I Saw” – Sarah Groves
- Energize yourself: “Missy”- Airborne Toxic Event, “Little Lion Man” – Mumford & Sons, or almost anything from Old Crow Medicine Show
- Let loose and have fun: “Come on Eileen”- Dexys Midnight Runner and anything from P!nk