About Me

Hello, and thank you for stopping by!

My name is Amy Ellifritz, and I am entering my 10th year as a 7-12th grade English and Special Education teacher with Chicago Public Schools.

My obsession with Shakespeare started when I was in elementary school.  When we entered our 6th grade year, this crazy, wonderful woman named Mrs. Dusky Reider (pictured to the right) showed up at Liberty Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio with a semi-truck full of Shakespearean scripts, costumes, makeup, lighting, backdrops, and props--everything we needed to dive head-first into her 3-week-long Shakespeare experience.  While all the glitz and glamor made the unit fun, she somehow managed to inspire us with Shakespeare's WORDS, which we memorized and performed in front of the entire school and all of our parents.  We learned about things like inflection, puns, and analyzation, we pored over scripts and historical images, and we stepped into multiple roles and made them our own.  It was a job well done, and I was hooked.

Fast forward ten years: I stepped into my first year as an English teacher in an urban environment in Chicago.  Disillusionment was the name of the game, as I slowly saw my dreams of deep, philosophical discussions about Shakespearean literature dashed. Instead, I struggled to cope with the complexities of teaching pre-literate students with a variety of diverse needs.  It turns out my job was to teach people to read--not to fall in love with Shakespeare.

I made a change.  I went back to school three years later and earned my master's degree to became a Special Education teacher.  I figured--if my job was to teach struggling readers, I had better get really, really good at it.  Once that was accomplished, I could find a way for those same struggling readers to access and fall in love with Shakespeare.

With years of careful planning and reflection and a core-shaking professional development series offered by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, I have at last found myself in a position to ensure struggling readers, second-language learners, and diverse learners can ALL be swept into the Shakespearean vortex that has been stirring our atmosphere for the last 400 years.

Shakespeare is a journey--not a destination.  I'll be clear about one thing: I am still learning and evolving as a teacher of this complex literature in an even more complex classroom.  But I hope you'll join me on this journey and infuse a bit of Shakespeare into your students' lives.  Let's learn from each other and bring The Bard along with us!

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