What I learned from Carla Lahey

Carla Lahey (left) directs the Touring Theatre Company as they prepare for a performance at Newton High School.

Carla Lahey (left) directs the Touring Theatre Company as they prepare for a performance at Newton High School.

In recent years, the Hesston College Horizon student publication has recognized departing faculty members by inviting students and employees to reflect on the impact these professors have made on their lives. With the COVID-19 campus dispersal in March and the impending departure of Horizon faculty advisor and communications prof Kendra Burkey, the college’s Marketing and Communications team has the privilege of recognizing this year’s departing faculty: Burkey; Carla Lahey, theatre prof, Campus Activities director; and Gary Oyer director of Media and Instructional Technology and archivist.

Carla Lahey

Carla leaves Hesston College this spring after two years teaching theatre, establishing the college’s Touring Theatre Company including directing the company and taking them to perform at a host of local high schools. She also played a key role in Student Life, directing campus activities. Carla completed her Ph.D. in theatre last fall and is accepting an assistant professor of theatre position at Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.

Alex Miller
Alex Miller
Alex Miller, freshman biology major, Arlington, Kan.

Carla Lahey taught the first theatre class I ever attended. Unsure of what was in store for me, I began “Art of Theatre” my first semester of college. It was not long before I grew to greatly appreciate Carla and the education she had to offer us. Filling her role as both a professor and the director of the Campus Activity Board here at Hesston, Carla seemed to connect with a wide variety of students. In interactions with her, both in theatre and student life, Carla always struck me as amiable and compassionate. She embodied the type of care and affable interaction that stands out as truly meaningful.

Being in the final stages of earning her doctorate degree, Carla must have been under loads of stress, but it never impacted her teaching. Some days I’m sure held exponentially more cups of coffee but each one she met us well, both as a professional and as a friend. She held us to a high standard of academics but was understanding if a sick day was needed. She helped me navigate college and was the first to inquire about my health and wellbeing if something seemed off. I look back on this year and reflect on the qualities personified in Carla, the number one thing I will carry with me is a reminder to be compassionate.

When we students found out that Carla would not remain at Hesston next year, the cancellation of school and quarantine had already begun. We didn’t get our chance to finish the show she had just begun to direct or even to say goodbye. In lieu of wishing that farewell in person I want to send it, along with best regards, here.

So thank you Carla. For being a teacher, director, a mentor, and a friend. I wish you God’s abundant blessings as you go from Hesston and enjoy the next season of life.

Rachel Jantzi
Rachel Jantzi
Rachel Jantzi, theatre professor

Carla has been an appreciated addition to the performing arts program these past 2 years. There is something so invigorating in having a colleague who wants to create and watch a program grow, and who is willing to collaborate and question in order to try to make it the best version it can be, in that moment. Carla is good at…

  1. asking the questions no one has really thought about, which comes from truly focused listening.
  2. making sure all sides of a potential problem are addressed thoroughly and all perspectives are heard.
  3. letting students lead and encouraging them to be curious.
  4. the details. The most recent example, her twelve page document for the new hire with information about classes, recruitment, shows, conferences, etc. To have something so thorough and thoughtful, will be beneficial.

While Carla does all this wonderfully, the thing I will take away from her the most is the value of time.

Most have played the “I’m busier than you can possibly fathom” game. I’ve played it. You know, the one where someone sighs about the amount of work they have only to be met with an equally worn colleague who says the same thing? I like that Carla doesn’t play that game. She could have. In addition to teaching, she taught a class that toured and the scheduling of that was ridiculous. She was attending high school shows on weekends and also conferences for the purpose of recruitment, and her time with Campus Activities Board kept her evenings occupied. She also did a show here and there, and had her share of meetings, all while completing her dissertation. Carla was sometimes tired, but she would choose to appreciate the boundaries she was keeping, the nights she was able to focus on her dissertation work, the importance of keeping consistent with her church attendance and the value of her time alone. She seemed centered on this quiet time she was creating for herself, rather than the busyness. In doing this, she has unknowingly taught me that I can choose to refocus and shift my thinking. I have the pleasure and privilege of work and the responsibility to create a space for myself and family. Thank you, Carla for this and all the many things you’ve taught me and our students. Break-a-leg on your next adventure. And…Curtain.