Garland Michael Hudson, affectionately called “Huddy” by his students, is currently the Theater Arts 1-4 and Technical Theater 1-4 teacher. He also directs two shows over the course of the school year, a fall/winter show and a spring show. Mr. Hudson has been teaching for thirty nine years, not only at Centreville High School, but also at three different private boarding schools (Augusta Military Academy, Randolph Macon Academy and The Phelps School in suburban Philadelphia). Even though Mr. Hudson is Centreville’s resident theater teacher, he has also taught Art, English 9-12, Speech, Publications, Television Production, and Film Study. Having taught for so long, he is approaching the end of his teaching career; he will be retiring following the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
Mr. Hudson was born and raised in Wytheville, a small town in Southwest Virginia. When asked what he did before becoming a teacher, Mr. Hudson responded with, “I am an FTD trained florist. My parents panicked when I graduated from undergrad with a degree in Speech Communications and no job offers in sight. They bought a Flower shop and greenhouse and gifted me with employment! I did not particularly care for the career. Within [eighteen] months I was actively hunting for a teaching position.” Outside of teaching, his interests include “renovating houses, antiqu[ing], reading, [and] gardening.”
Mr. Hudson’s inspiration for teaching are his students. “I have always found that I learned more from my students than I ever learned in a class. I believe that we all learn from each other and to be an active learner keeps you young, focused and entertained!” This seems to be a common thread across the board for many teachers here at Centreville. Mr. Hudson refers to Roy A. “Skip” Maiden, Centreville’s very first theater teacher and a close friend of Mr. Hudson, as his mentor and inspiration. He describes Maiden as “[having] set the highest bar for the Theater Arts,” and says that “[he has] never met another teacher so totally dedicated to the art and his students.” For Mr. Hudson, his favorite teaching memory is “[the] sold out performances for Beauty and the Beast and receiving letters from former students. Hearing from former students is the sincerest ‘thank you’ a teacher can receive.”
Being a theater teacher, I just had to ask Mr. Hudson some questions about theater and his experience in the field. His favorite show is Phantom of the Opera, which is the longest-running show in Broadway history. When asked about his favorite show that he has ever directed, he said, “that [it] would be a toss up between The Laramie Project and Beauty and the Beast.” And his favorite show that he has ever been in? “Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, I played Autolycus.” For those who want to pursue a career in theater, he advised that “[they should] take classes in areas that you are not familiar [with, such as] dance, diction, voice/singing, stage combat, multiple levels of acting. You can never be too prepared. Determine ‘what’ you want before you start the journey.”
When I asked Mr. Hudson, “how has teaching changed since you’ve become a teacher?” he declined to give an answer; only stating that “[it has changed in] too many ways to discuss, [as] it is not the profession that I began all those years ago.” However he noted that the introduction of new technologies have certainly influenced the way he teaches. “Grading and attendance programs have been a huge help…but I would say that having access to computers has been the biggest influence. Research has been simplified and word processing has improved to the extent that documents can be created, checked, and cross referenced in a very short time.”
Surprisingly, when asked about his greatest challenge, it had to deal with the shows he directs here at Centreville. “The most difficult thing that I have ever had to do – I do yearly – [is] casting for a show. Many times, casting is painful; trying to maintain the best actor for the part is many times a game of chance and certainly full of risk. I do not sleep well after casting a show.”
Mr. Hudson has been my theater teacher since my freshman year of high school. He is incredibly dedicated to his students and his shows, and aims to help all of his students improve their acting abilities, regardless if they are going to a pursue a career in the field. I highly recommend that all students take theater, because the class is both fun and educational, and I find that it helps you learn a little bit more about yourself.