Piedmont Alumnus Dakota Stockton Passing Love of Theatre on to Next Generation
Dakota Stockton always loved theatre but never really considered it a career option. Today, he is the director of theatre for Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia.
Piedmont University helped him get from the dream he had early on to where he is today. He graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Education.
“When I was a junior in high school, I felt a calling to teach theatre. I wanted to be personally responsible for the next generation of theatre kids, and the rest is history,” Stockton said.
The faculty at Piedmont pushed him to be “the best version of myself,” he said, “and showed me the best practices for a teacher to make their performance the best that it can be.”
Stockton said Piedmont’s theatre department professors gifted him with unique skills and abilities. Bill Gabelhausen coached that “it takes love and passion to do what I do on a daily basis. He taught me that no matter what, my students come first. My wants for the program come after.”
Stockton said Associate Theatre Professor Kathy Blandin set an example for effectively leading and running a program.
“She taught me how to teach. She showed me through experience. She provided real-life experiences and examples to make sure that I could pass them on to the next generation.”
From Associate Theatre Professor John Spiegel, Stockton learned how to manage a one-person show.
“There were many productions where John was directing, designing, and teaching at the same time,” Stockton said. “He showed me that if I take the time to do everything right, nothing within my control can go wrong.”
Henry Johnson, who retired from the theatre department last year after 16 years with Piedmont, taught Stockton how to merge his heart’s desire with a budget. He imparted how to “teach beginning skills in technical theatre to students with zero experience, and even students who are scared to use the tools found in a scene shop.”
The department fostered his love for theatre. It was a formative experience. Stockton grew as an educator and a leader.
“Piedmont taught me what it means to be a theatre teacher. It goes so much further than teaching curriculum. Teaching theatre includes relationship building, money management, student engagement, community involvement, and advocacy for my program. These skills have guided me to create a program of inclusion, creativity, and honesty.”
He will “always recommend” Piedmont for students who want to study theatre.
“Without Piedmont, I probably would like theatre, but my passions would fall elsewhere. Piedmont gave me my dream of helping the next generation become the best.”
Stockton feels supported in his current role with a school system that pushes him to “be my best,” but he is still dreaming. Ultimately, he’d like to return to higher education as a technical director or serve a school system as a fine arts director.
“Either of these positions would help me inspire the next generation and would help me feel rested at night knowing that I have a hand in the formal and informal education of fine arts students. I definitely feel that my dream is within reach.”
Learn more about Piedmont University’s Theatre program at piedmont.edu/theatre.