Costume Studies instructor weaves community of support for students

- April 5, 2018

Anneke Henderson (right) at work with students on costumes for "Drums and Organs." (William Sinclair photos)
Anneke Henderson (right) at work with students on costumes for "Drums and Organs." (William Sinclair photos)

“Superwoman – is that one word?” asks Jaya Ducharme, a fourth-year student in the Fountain School of the Performing Arts.

Describing her instructor, Anneke Henderson, in one word is not a simple task.

Prof. Henderson, this year’s winner of the Dalhousie Student Union Teaching Award, presented at last month’s Student Impact Awards, says teaching is, “a really highly satisfying, productive, rewarding career.”   

“I’m very honoured; completely surprised,” she says about her award. “I did not know they were nominating me. You just do what you do every day of the week and when somebody calls you up and says you’ve won an award for teaching, it’s a bit of a shock.”

An advocate for students

Prof. Henderson is an instructor in Dal’s Fountain School of Performing Arts, as well as head of wardrobe. When she spoke with Dal News, she was working tirelessly to organize the year-end show — Drums and Organs — for this year’s graduating students.

“She’s here all weekend; you can text her at any time, she’ll just come from her house to help you with whatever it is you need help with,” says Ducharme. “It could be like 10 o’clock in the evening and she’d probably still come if you’re really stuck.”

Prof. Henderson has been busy supporting seven honours students this year — managing wardrobes, plays and the opera, teaching classes and advocating for her students.

“Students will be in here crying, or like, ‘Oh I’m so stressed about all the work I have to do,’ and Anneke has more work and to her it’s like, ‘It’s all going to be fine, it’s no trouble,’” Ducharme says.

Prof. Henderson’s ongoing provision of support comes naturally.

“It’s more of a mentorship and advisory role that I play,” she says. “This is what we do all the time and this is what I’ve done with students for 10 years, so for me, it’s the only way I know how to interact with students.”

Inspired by teaching

Mallory Theoret, also a third-year student in the program, is taking two classes with Prof. Henderson this term.

“[Prof. Henderson is] great, she’s super organized and on the ball about everything which is really nice,” says Theoret. “She really takes on a lot and does it really gracefully as well.”

Henderson says she admires the students she works with and what they manage to accomplish in the in the course of a school year.

“I’m always inspired by them, I think that it’s this lovely cycle that continues each September,” Henderson says. “You go through a school year, you watch your fourth-year students graduate by June and it’s this lovely cycle that ends in such a celebratory way.”


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