While it is true that there were other people at the Folger involved in getting Education on its feet, it is also fair to say that the Education Division would not exist today were it not for Gail Paster’s vision to create one and her determination to make it happen. She undertook the arduous task to create a separate Ed. Div. because, as she has said, “It was the right thing to do.”
Gail’s steadfast support for the docent program, for Shakespeare education, for teachers in their classrooms, for providing students with the richest experience with the Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets possible, and her commitment to performance-based teaching in schools has a long and rich history. Gail has been a visible, powerful force in promoting Shakespeare education in so many ways: working with teachers at our two-day ESU/Folger institutes in New York; setting a scholarly tone for secondary school teachers attending our Teaching Shakespeare Institute by giving the opening lecture; conducting seminars with the High School Fellows; and laughing along with teachers and students, and their parents/guardians at a Children’s or Secondary School Festival performance of the Rude Mechanicals' “Pryamus & Thisby” play for the 100th time!
Gail has worked the phones to raise funds for education and faced the daunting challenge of navigating DC traffic to meet with potential funders for Education programs.
As a result of Gail’s efforts, teachers have had, and will continue to have, the encouragement, support, and resources they need to bring Shakespeare’s work to their classrooms, cafeterias, auditoriums or theaters, and students - all students -will be able to engage in close readings of Shakespeare’s texts through the intellectual, physical, and vocal activities.
In recognition for all that she has done to advance the teaching of Shakespeare locally, nationally, and around the world, the Education Division presented the 2011 Shakespeare Steward Award, its highest - and only - achievement award to Gail Kern Paster.