Professional Development RSVP

Basic Conflict in the Classroom with Spoleto Festival USA’s Opera Vanessa

Saturday, May 27
Elementary and Middle School Teachers
3 Recertification Hours*


PART I: Teaching Basic Conflict in the Classroom
Gaillard Center
A mini-professional development workshop with Catherine Wilhoit, founder and educator for Addressing Basic Conflict. Cocktails and Hors-d’oeuvres included.

PART II: Spoleto Festival USA Opera, Vanessa
Gaillard Center
Vanessa in the Martha & John M. Rivers Performance Hall at the Charleston Gaillard Center.

*For Charleston and Dorchester County Educators

Teachers will participate in engaging activities that will explore the importance of emotional awareness and social skills in building healthy relationships and managing classrooms, and also discuss the significance of effective communication and active listening in resolving conflicts and misunderstandings.

Teachers will draw inspiration from the themes of the opera Vanessa, which highlights the consequences of miscommunication and the importance of forgiveness and understanding.

They will explore CASEL social emotional learning objectives, which include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, and how these objectives can be integrated into daily classroom activities and routines to promote a safe and supportive learning environment.

Throughout the workshop, teachers will engage various tools and discuss conflict resolution strategies, such as using “I” statements, active listening, and finding common ground while learning how to help students understand and express their emotions, and how to facilitate productive discussions to address conflicts and misunderstandings.

Rising operatic superstar Nicole Heaston takes on the titular role in this powerful existential drama, set to one of the most beautiful scores of the 20th century. Tucked away in a countryside mansion, Vanessa has waited 20 years for the return of her lover, Anatol. When his deadringer son arrives instead, a love triangle ensues between the conniving young suitor, Vanessa, and her impressionable niece.

American composer Samuel Barber won the Pulitzer Prize for Vanessa’s sweepingly lyrical score, which explores the full depths of the characters’ psyches in what librettist and Spoleto’s founder Gian Carlo Menotti characterized as a universal human dilemma.

Sung in English with English supertitles.

Catherine is the creator and founder of Addressing Basic Conflict. Catherine earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from the College of Charleston, which she uses to create original content for Addressing Basic Conflict. Catherine received her law degree from the Charleston School of Law, where she has taught courses in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution. In addition to being an active member of the South Carolina Bar and practicing law, Catherine is certified in social-emotional and character development instruction through the Rutgers University Department of Psychology. Catherine is also a qualified family and civil mediator, a staff and youth mediation trainer, a certified juvenile arbitrator, and Past-Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the South Carolina Bar. Valuing community involvement and engagement, she also serves on the Board of the Mediation and Meeting Center of Charleston, acts as a member of the Charleston Inn of Court, and is a frequent presenter on conflict resolution education addressing both legal and educational communities. 

Through Addressing Basic Conflict, Catherine’s work and trainings have touched the lives of thousands of young people, parents, and educators locally and globally, extending as far as Kenya.  Catherine is particularly proud to have worked with numerous community organizations interested in the wellbeing of children, including WINGS for Kids, Engaging Creative Minds, the LENS Foundation, The Charleston Spoleto Festival, Charleston County School District, and The Charleston Police Department.  She loves seeing the far-reaching benefits of her work in conflict resolution education.  Catherine is the mother of Miller, her young son, and wife to her wonderful husband, Tyler.

Self-Care Through Theater with
Spoleto Festival USA’s The Book of Life

Thursday, June 1
Elementary and Middle School Teachers
3 Recertification Hours*


PART I: Self-Care Through Theater Inside and Outside the Classroom
Spoleto Building
14 George St.
A mini-teacher professional development workshop, Masks and Characters with theater educator, Genese Gee-Schmidtke.

PART II: Spoleto Festival USA’s performance of The Book of Life
Festival Hall|
56 Beaufain St.

*For Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester County Educators

Masks and Characters focuses on the inner educator and their specific needs, while also acknowledging the space, discipline and endurance needed to teach. Enjoy playing theatre games and participating in mask work and character development as we learn more about you, the educator behind the “mask.” Develop skills to value your personal well-being and goals, as well as how these intersect with classroom objectives. Develop understanding that these skills will help you better educate and nurture your students. Additionally, all games and exercises are transferable to your classroom, as you lead your students on their path of self-discovery.

ABOUT Genese Gee-Schmidtke (she/hers)
is an educator and performing arts professional at the College of Charleston. A teacher of the fine and performing arts for over 11 years to students ranging from kindergarten to adult collegiate learners, she is eager to step into any classroom. Genese has founded a fine and performing arts program called OurCornerArts. Through this program students discover and actively display their positive creativity through productions and workshops for change and community awareness. When not at CofC, she is a company administrator for Annex Dance Company, a modern professional dance company in Charleston, SC. In all aspects of the performing arts, Genese hopes her students, patrons, and colleagues see her passion for the stage and discover their own.

Based on creator Odile Gakire Katese’s collected letters from survivors and perpetrators of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, The Book of Life leads audiences on a remarkable journey of pain, grief, acceptance, and rebirth. In this deeply moving performance about finding hope in the aftermath of tragedy, the playwright and cultural entrepreneur’s story reverberates through spoken word and the rhythms of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first-ever female drumming ensemble founded by Katese. In a world racked with hatred and struggle, The Book of Life celebrates healing after trauma and the resilience of the human spirit.

Co-created, written, and performed by Odile Gakire Katese
Co-created and directed by Ross Manson
Projection design by Sean Frey
Composed by Mutangana Moise
Featuring music performed by Ingoma Nshya, The Women Drummers of Rwanda