Reimagining Education Series

Addressing the Impacts of the Pandemic and Social Uprisings


This series of conversations is a search with educators, artists, students and families who are actively reimagining education during this pandemic and beyond. Being in a distance-learning environment has made way for new discoveries, new ways of working and different strategies for connecting to each other amidst the various challenges. This time has become an invocation to reflect on ourselves and our communities, and examine how we address social justice, center artistic expression, and value of each individual in our society. Join us as we envision a brighter and more equitable future together. 

This event will be live-streamed on Pangea World Theater's facebook page. RSVP link available soon!

An International Perspective

Saturday, February 27, 10:30am Central Standard Time - Watch Here

This panel will feature educators from around the world, sharing their experience of the pandemic from their particular global position. We look forward to speaking with the following individuals:

  • Joy Buckner - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • Ntokozo Charity Madlala - Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

  • Alyssa Flegg - London, England

  • Hector Pascual Alvarez - Los Angeles, USA & Spain

  • Asha Sanjay - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

About the Panelists

Joy Buckner

Joy Buckner is a Joy in name and in spirit.  A confidence-builder, educationalist, life coach and exuberant presenter, Joy is a catalyst for moving people beyond their fears to better their practice.  Grit and failing forward are modeled to ignite excellence.  


A native of Denver Colorado, early in her schooling Joy struggled as a learner.  Her undiagnosed Dyslexia and desire to motivate others beyond their challenges inspired her decision to pursue a career in Education.  Joy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English-Early Childhood Education, and a Master of Education in Interdisciplinary Studies in Curriculum and Instruction. 


Joy has served communities in the USA, UAE, UK and Nigeria as a Teacher, Literacy Specialist, Reading Interventionist, Instructional Coach, Director of Teaching and Learning, EdTech Executive and most recently as the Founder of her Educational Consultancy Buckner Education.  Joy develops the individuals she is working with to reach their highest potential. She believes in being the change you want to see in the world and leaving your mark and a positive impact on all that you do, whether that be big or small.  Essentially, she is a lifelong learner, coach, trainer and lecturer who brings the sunshine back into learning and growing.  

Alyssa Flegg

Alyssa Flegg is a teacher, specialist art educator and a yoga instructor. Originally from Scotland, Alyssa currently teaches across a federation of schools in central London. As a Fine art graduate her practice has been informed from working in a variety of educational institutions including public sculpture parks, community enterprise, and artist collaborations . Developing a creative curriculum throughout different boroughs in London is driven by the knowledge of the importance of the arts for children’s development, sense of wellbeing and redressing the balance of process over product in education. Inner city schools in London are rich tapestries of multiple language, culture, religion, and experience. Alyssa strives towards delivering a curriculum that inspires children to flourish and find their unique identity and voice . She believes all children are entitled to opportunities to engage with art, culture and creativity, and this should be supported by the education system, cultural institutions and government initiatives.

Héctor Álvarez

Héctor Álvarez is a writer, actor and director from Spain based in Los Angeles. He has studied non-Western theater traditions in China, Japan and Indonesia, and in 2008 received a Watson Fellowship to research community-based performance in Latin America. He has a BA in Theater from Macalester College and an MA in Modern English Literature from University College London and is currently pursuing an MFA in Directing at the California Institute of Arts. He has trained with Augusto Boal, Peter Schumann, Malte Lambrecht, Guillermo Heras, Georges Bigot and Anne Bogart, and has performed in more than 20 productions. In 2017 he presented his one-man show about gun violence The Ghoul Exhibition (directed by Melissa Lorraine), described by The Chicago Reader as “A deeply affecting solo show. Truly audacious.” Recent directing credits include We're Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee, Self-Accusation by Peter Handke, Malaga by Lukas Bärfuss, and Visiting Room, a devised show created with formerly incarcerated women in Chicago, IL.

Ntokozo Madlala

Ntokozo Madlala is a Drama and performance studies lecturer at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She has also worked as a teacher, an actor, director, a Community, Industrial Theatre and Theatre In Education practitioner. She is a passionate teacher, who believes in the enabling power of Education. She embraces the philosophies of a learner centred education and is always seeking ways to make that a reality in the learning space. She is currently Module Co-ordinator for the Applied Theatre Module, the Research Masters Program, Honours Directing Module and a Theatre Studies entry level Module. 

She is also passionate about directing and about accessing South African narratives that reinforce and reclaim a sense of belonging and identity. Her directing credits include productions such as Sophiatown by Junction Avenue Theatre Company, focusing on the disruptions on black communities caused by forced removals during Apartheid, Sarafina by Mbongeni Ngema, an epic Broadway Musical about 1976 Soweto Uprising. Original works include: Beyond Silence written by elderly township women about their personal lives, co-directed with multi award winning director Mandla Mbothwe, Mzansi stories created with South African youth known as born frees, and Crush Hopper created in collaboration with Mandisa Haarhoff which was awarded Musho Festival winner award and an Ovation award at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. 


She has a great appreciation for Collaborative Theatre Making and for finding relevance of Traditional African forms of Performance for contemporary audiences. She is constantly fascinated by the idea that theatre can be used as a tool for social development, education and community engagement. Currently grappling with how to make that an effective reality within the educational space, during a pandemic. Fascinated, challenged but excited for the future!

Asha Sanjay

Head of Digital Solutions at Mirai Partners – A learning Innovation Consultancy

Asha has 25+ years of varied experience across the educational landscape. Armed with a graduation in Physics, a graduation in Education and Physical Sciences and a Master’s in Education (Australian curriculum), her career began as a math and science teacher working in progressive schools renowned for their enquiry/project –based/experimental approach. She moved on to leading education technology and curriculum development projects across India, Bhutan and Dubai. Her learner-centric approach is driven by the belief that pedagogy and the needs of the individual child must lead technology so as to meaningfully navigate through this digitized world. Asha’s current role at Mirai  involves curating, customizing, and strategizing the adoption of Innovative programs and practices in schools, Education and Ed Tech companies, Global Consultancies and businesses for maximizing impact and outcomes. She and her team work with teachers across Middle East and Africa on fellowship programs to support schools through their innovation process and practices especially during the pandemic times.

Past Events

Focus on Families

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 - Watch Here

This virtual panel featured Juma B. Essie, Sir Curtis Kirby III, Kiyoko McCrae and Denise Uyahara, as well as a student from the Ikidowin Youth Ensemble, a program of the Indigenous People's Task Force.

About the Panelists

Juma B. Essie

Lake Street in Minneapolis is punctuated by bodies of water: the Mississippi River to the east and Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska to the west.  Between these undeniable natural parenthesis lies paragraphs of urbanity.  Often as a Black man who fishes, hikes, and camps I feel like a walking paradox.  The assumptions of who I am butt up against the reality of what I am doing.  Just being, thinking, quiet.  James Baldwin wrote in Nobody Knows My Name,"Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is the real life...and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world".  Blackness in the modern imagination does not (cannot) have an intangible inner life.  It is knowable, deciperable, and capable of judging at a glance.  It does not fit in nature; being, thinking, quiet, deep in the rhapsody of the self.  What is the experience of being Black in nature in the Twin Cities?  How is it shaped and informed by the parenthesis and paragraphs of Lake St? 


Juma B. Essie is a writer, performer and drummer exploring the primal power of vibration. Juma was a Many Voices Fellow at the Playwrights Center, a featured performer at the Late Nite Series at Pillsbury Theatre and for Queertopia 2018. He also created a one person show for the Naked Stages Program. Juma's favorite place is on the water fishing with his daughter.  

Sir Curtis Kirby III

Sir Curtis Kirby III - Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe and African American descent, is enjoying his 7th year directing the Ikidowin Youth Theater Ensemble (IYT), a program for the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. He has been selected as an Emerging Artist for a TPT Minnesota Originals special, "ART IS.... CREATIVE NATIVE RESILIENCE.” Kirby is mentored by Dipankar Mukherjee, and participated in Pangea’s National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation the past four years. He has awarded a 2-year Fellowship with Pangea World Theater in Directing. At Pangea, Kirby has assistant-directed Five Weeks, Sabra Falling, Mother Courage and her Children, and Sueño. He recently worked with Bonnie Morris of Illusion Theater and Tye Defore for a show at The Guthrie Theater, and directed a one-act play in New York City, 2020 Reflections on Native Voices as an Emerging Director.

Kiyoko McCrae

Kiyoko McCrae is a Japanese-American film and theater director, striving to shift mainstream narratives by telling undertold stories of communities of color. She recently directed Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever, a collaboration with Leyla McCalla, commissioned and premiered at Duke Performances. Other directing credits include The Uninvited and Big Easy Theater award winner, The Stranger Disease by Goat in the Road Productions and Landscape with Figures with Andrew Ondrejcak at CAC New Orleans. Her short film Black Back won the audience award for Best Louisiana Short at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival and her most recent film Artist in Exile was supported by the New Orleans Tricentennial Story Incubator. She is currently in production for a short documentary about the impact of the pandemic on a group of mothers in New Orleans which is supported by Firelight Media, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and Reel South, scheduled to be broadcast in summer 2021. She is also currently developing her first feature documentary, Within, Within, with support from CAAM and Southern Documentary Fund. She is the Filmmaker Programs Manager at the New Orleans Film Society and lives in New Orleans with her filmmaker husband Jason and their two children Manami and Koji.

Denise Uyehara

Denise Uyehara is a performance artist, writer and director based in Tucson who has been presented in London, Tokyo, Helsinki and across the U.S.  Her most recent work focuses on civil liberties, migration and nation, and what marks us as we cross borders of identity.  As part of the 5th World Collective, she collaborated with Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to create Shooting Columbus, exploring what this continent would look like if settlers never arrived.  She partnered with Pan Left, Jason Aragon and local artists to create Dreams/Sueños, a multi-disciplinary performance inspired by interviews with undocumented women in South Tucson. Senkotsu (Mis)Translation Project examines the U.S. occupation in Okinawa, while Big Head investigates connections between incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and treatment of Muslim Americans in a post-9/11 world. Support includes: The MAP Fund, ACA Project Grant, COLA Award, and the Asian Arts Council.  She holds an MFA from UCLA and a BA in Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine.  She is a Sacred Naked Nature Girl, a proud mother, and university lecturer. Maps of City & Body (Kaya) documents her work. More info:

Centering Teachers & Students

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - Watch Here

This virtual panel featured Rose Chu, Kathy Haddad, Anton Jones, Kevin Ward and Ahmed Yusuf, as well as students from Avalon School and St. Paul Conservatory of Performing Arts.

About the Panelists​

Rose Chu

Dr. Rose Wan-Mui Chu has dedicated her professional life to the tireless pursuit of education equity and excellence for children and youth. Rose brings over 20+ years of rich and diverse cross-sector experiences. Her original Industrial and Systems Engineering background, coupled with her experience as a classroom teacher have continued to ground her life’s work in educational reform and transformation. She is professor emerita at Metropolitan State University​, where she has previously been a faculty and department chair at the Urban Teacher Program. Rose also held executive leadership positions as Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, and as interim Dean of Urban Education at Metropolitan State University. She currently serves as Senior Policy Fellow at Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, leading the TeachMN20/20 collective impact initiative to advance systems change to create and retain a racially diverse teacher workforce. TeachMN20/20 aims to demystify and elevate the teaching profession by changing the public narrative about teaching (see, and to catalyze collaborative engagement towards collective action, accountability and impact. Rose was recently elected to the school board of the Roseville Area Schools and began her first term in January 2020.

Kathy Haddad

Kathryn Haddad has been a high school teacher in Minnesota since 1991. Her licensure is in English Language Arts and Communication Arts with master’s degrees in Liberal Studies and Public Affairs. She has developed and taught classes in literature, writing, and film, and serves as a concurrent enrollment instructor at both Normandale Community College and Minneapolis Community College. In addition to her work as a teacher, she is the Executive and Artistic Director of New Arab American Theater Works in Minneapolis and was the founder and executive/artistic director of Mizna for over a decade. Kathryn is a 2004-05 recipient of an Archibald Bush Leadership Fellowship for her work with the Arab American community. She has received three Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowships, is a recipient of the 2018 Kay Sexton Award from the Minnesota Book Awards for her work with the Arab American Community, and is a 2019-20 Jerome Artist Fellow in theater. As a playwright, her works have been presented throughout Twin Cities stages. She has had several works published in anthologies including the upcoming, More Than A Single Story anthology edited by David Mura and Carolyn Holbrook, University of Minnesota Press, 2021.

Anton Jones

Anton holds his MFA from the University of Iowa Playwright’s Workshop and his BA in Theatre from Grinnell College. He has directed, written and provided hip-hop theatre workshops for CLIMB actors since 2007. He has worked as a director, playwright, and theatre educator for Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, The Illusion Theatre, History Theatre, Karamu Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Upstream Arts, Children’s Theatre Company, The Guthrie, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD. He is a two time Jerome Many Voices Fellowship Recipient. As a sound designer/composer, his work has been heard internationally, off-broadway and most recently on CLIMBs podcasts of Faraway Woods.

Kevin Ward​

Kevin Ward is an advisor at Avalon School.  He joined Avalon School in 2002.  A graduate of Oberlin College with a BA in English, Kevin has also attended Northwestern University (MS in Secondary English Instruction) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (MA in English Literature).  He lives in the Hamline Midway neighborhood of St. Paul with his wife Jess and two kids Murray and Olive.  Kevin likes reading and working with students. 

Ahmed Yusuf

Raised in a nomadic upbringing, Ahmed Ismail Yusuf is the author of three books: Gorgorkii Yimi, a collection of short stories in Somali, The Lion’s Binding Oath, a collection of short stories in English, and Somalis in Minnesota. His short stories appeared in Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali studies, Mizna: An Arab-American literary magazine. His play “A Crack in the Sky” was produced at the History Theatre in Saint Paul and others were performed at Pangea World Theater as well as Mixed Blood Theatre. His mental health publications appeared in Journal of Muslim Mental Health; Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology; International Society for Traumatic-stress Studies, Psychiatry Times. He has a BS in creative writing and psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; and an MPA (Master of Public Affairs) from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota.  

Pangea World Theater Education

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