The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Director follows in teacher’s footsteps to inspire students

By Shelly Williams/se news editor

Sealed shut and shy as can be, his first encounter with drama made him fall hard for something he’d always come back to in the future. Teaching.

As a freshman in high school, SE director of theater John Dement didn’t enroll himself in his first theatre class. However, his mother did.

“My mom put me in drama in ninth grade because I was terribly, terribly introverted and I wouldn’t talk to people,” Dement said. “It’s that cliché story of the high school theater teacher who had a profound effect on me. He was a well-rounded person. He knew so much about so many things.”

Dement’s original plan was to go to Baylor and get his degree, then return to his high school to become his teacher’s protégé. However, that changed when he entered college. In his last year at Baylor, he altered his major and decided to become an actor. But fate soon brought him back to teaching when he entered graduate school.

“I taught at the little children’s theatre there and I taught some classes in graduate school, and I really like teaching,” Dement said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. If Steven Spielberg came and knocked on my door and said ‘John, we have to have you,’ I’d give it up for Steven, but I genuinely enjoy getting into the classroom and teaching.”

Whether he is teaching, acting, producing or directing, he said that his job never becomes stale.

“Three months go by and it’s a whole new group of students. Six weeks go by and it’s a new show,” he said. “And the same is true with acting. Any acting job that you get is only going to last a certain amount of time and then you’re going to start over. So it allows for endless variety — the teaching and performing.”

Despite the fact that acting jobs may be short-lived, Dement has still made an impression on his students similar to that of his own high school role model. 

For SE student Max Unger, Dement’s theater appreciation class inspired him to join theater again, causing Unger to reconsider his major.

“He’s extremely passionate about what he does,” Unger said.

He said he was convinced he would major in political science and linguistics for the rest of his life, but that he found his niche on stage.

“And one show that I did here turned into two, then turned into three, and I’m actually working on my sixth show right now. Pretty much, John saved me from making the biggest mistake of my life without knowing it,” he said.

SE student Thomas Hoce also stopped to re-evaluate his choice of classes. He said Dement relates to his students and makes them laugh, which provides good chemistry when they’re working hours at a time.

“I’ve had a lot of drama teachers in the past, and the ones in the past, like high school, played favorites a lot,” Hoce said. “When I came to TCC, I wasn’t going to do theater until I found out some of my friends were in here and they got me involved. John does whatever is best for the show, which I’ve realized since having my first semester with him, and I keep coming back.”

However, Dement also has fallen for something else besides the life of theater. Outside of the classroom and stage area, he plays a bigger role. Daddy.

As a father for the past eight years, Dement said raising children has been devastating for his professional acting career, and he’s completely OK with that. Yet this doesn’t keep him from the stage, and his children are quick to follow in Daddy’s footsteps.

“I have three boys who have all done shows here. They really like the costumes. They actually relate really well with my students,” Dement said. “I’ve got some good students who take care of my children when we’re up here working, and I enjoy that time with them here.”

He has done some small-scale professional work since the birth of his first son. The most recent work consists of two episodes of the television show Friday Night Lights as an extra

“I played reporters in those. I got a minimal amount of screen time. I don’t know if you could watch the episode and push pause and you might see me,” he said.

Dement said he now has no bigger responsibility than as a parent. His first loves, teaching and acting, have fallen to a close second.

“I am actually blessed to work in a place with a supervisor with an understanding that with me, family is first priority in every single situation,” he said. “They understand that I’m not going to be anywhere else but here doing this work unless there’s something going wrong with the family.”

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