May 9, 2017
‘Hamilton’ Star Says Teacher Saved His Life
Today isÂ National Teacher Day.
Most of us have seen the sticker, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.â€ But how many of us owe our very livelihoods to the intervention of a caring, persistent–even intrusively supportive teacher?
Anthony Ramos, who originated two roles in the smash Broadway hit phenomenon Hamilton, may think he does. According to New York Teacher, he has called a Brooklyn, New York, high school teacher “the angelâ€ who saved his life.
Ramos has since left the Broadway musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s powerful interpretation of the life of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of our country, based on the best-selling biography by Ron Chernow.
From Baseball to Musical Theater
At New Utrecht High School, Ramos was a star baseball player who wasn’t much interested in musicals. On a lark, he tried out for the school’s SING production and caught the ear of Sara Steinweiss, a high school English teacher and alum of New Utrecht who had founded the school’s theater program as a high school senior.
According to New York Teacher, Ramos says of Steinweiss, “She showed me the path. She’s the angel in my life who believed in me.â€
Steinweiss was struck by Ramos’s “angelic voice,â€ but the young man didn’t see himself in the theater. Steinweiss practically had to force him.
“I was not the easiest person to wrangle,â€ recalls Ramos, who was raised by a single mother in a Bushwick housing project. “I was lost in school, trying to figure it out.â€
When his college baseball plans didn’t work out, Ramos wasn’t sure what to do next, but Steinweiss did.
The $50 Barrier
According to the article, Steinweiss helped Ramos complete his application for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, an intensive two-year performing arts conservatory in Manhattan. When Ramos balked at the $50 application fee, Steinweiss wrote out the check.
Ramos was accepted. But the steep tuition presented another barrier. Undeterred, Steinweiss drew on a connection with a scholarship organization founded by Jerry Seinfeld, New York Teacher writes. She made a call and arranged a meeting for Ramos–who was soon awarded a full scholarship. He later graduated from the program.
According to New York Teacher, “This is why arts are so important in the public school system,â€ an emotional Ramos told the City Council on March 22, 2016, as he was presented with a proclamation heralding his success as a public school alumnus. “Sara and the arts truly saved my life.â€