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    Posted July 27, 2007

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Equity Members Double As Teachers to Non-English Speaking New Yorkers

The need for ESOL (English for Speaker of Other Language) classes in New York City is growing, and many organizations, from schools and colleges to unions and community-based organizations, churches and businesses, are currently sponsoring ESOL programs.

The Actors Work Program of The Actors Fund can prepare performers for a second career teaching English as a second language. "We are excited about helping performers develop careers as ESOL teachers," says Kathy Schrier, Director of the Actors Work Program. "Besides using their artistic talents, ESOL teaching opportunities exist morning, afternoons, evenings and weekends. Most of our clients are able to find a teaching schedule that fits with their industry work needs."

Neal Mayer, whose credits include LES MISERABLES on Broadway, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, and regional work at Arena Stage and Goodspeed, has just finished a run of SISTERS ROSENZWEIG at the School House Theatre in Croton Falls. While rehearsing for this play, Neal taught an ESOL class for th New York Presbyterian Church in Long Island City. He plans to continue with his two careers because, according to Neal," Teaching ESOL is rewarding on many different levels. I've met fascinating people from many different cultures. I've been able to use my theatre training in new ways, and I can supplement my income with a job that makes me feel great about living in this city."

Neal received support for his ESOL teaching career from The Actors Work Program. His career counselor helped him learn about the field; he gained skills in its training program, and found employment through an Actors Work Program referral.

Cris Groendendaal also received support for his ESOL teaching career. Cris has starred in five Broadway shows, including playing The Phantom in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Anthony Hope in the original SWEENEY TODD, and Miles Gloriosus in a revival of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. He also has a national concert singing career. Cris got the ESOL bug when he was in the Peace Corps in South Korea in the early 1970s. He currently teaches at Westchester Community College and says "teaching and singing are both fulfilling work that allows me plenty of time to spend time with my family."

"Most programs require the teachers to develop much of their own curriculum. The Actors Work Program ESOL teacher training program helps clients develop these skills and linking clients to excellent volunteer opportunities also prepares them for ESOL teaching work," says Ms. Schrier. "Organizations are always asking us for teaching referrals."

The Actors Work Program helps members identify and find meaningful work to complement their industry careers. To learn more about the Program, attend an orientation, held every Monday form 12 Noon to 2:30 p.m. at The Actors Fund offices, 729, Seventh Avenue, 11th Floor. No pre-registration is necessary.

If you are an Equity member not living in New York and would like support in developing a sideline career, call The Actors Work Program, (212) 354-5480. For information about The Actors Fund, visit the website

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