It was in the seats of the MUNY theater that the Breeden family first learned about a new art school forming in St. Louis’s Grand Center Arts District. They were excited to find a school that would foster their middles schooler’s passion for dance and provide a safe environment where he wouldn’t be bullied for being different. A few phone calls later, Joel Douglas joined the first class of students that formed GCAA in the Baptist church building across the street from where GCAA stands now.
By the end of Joel’s first year, Ms. Breeden applied for a teaching support position and has been teaching math, current events, and social studies at GCAA ever since. As she reflected on the positive impact GCAA has had on her and her son’s lives, she expressed gratitude for the opportunity for them to thrive in an environment where “the hours and days were filled not with just learning and teaching, but renewed hopes to learn without being bullied and experience firsthand how education could change lives.”
Ms. Breeden is retiring this year as GCAA’s longest-tenured teacher. She feels honored to have seen so many of her students grow and thrive as adults. After graduating from GCAA in 2016, Joel Douglas went on to train at Boston Conservatory and now lives in NYC where he has a promising future in professional musical theater. He often finds himself back at where he first learned about GCAA – only this time he is the one on stage, inspiring the young artists who find themselves in the same place he once was, longing to fulfill their dreams of being up on that stage.