Teachers don’t do it for the money, they do it in the hope they can make a difference in students’ lives.
Tracy Eden has surely succeeded at that.
“I definitely have the best job in the world!” said Eden, theater teacher and director at Webb City High School.
He has been involved in theater for about 40 years, but he has made some stops along the way.
After attending Missouri Southern right after high school, Eden dropped out to join the Marine Corps.
“I had gotten burned out on school and wanted to get away from the area, so I went as drastic as I could and joined the Marines,” he said.
He served his country for four years, and then returned to Southern, eventually earning two degrees in English and theater/speech communication.
He graduated in 1991 with a BA, then married and moved to Pittsburg, Kan., where he got a factory job.
Soon, though, he returned to Southern yet again to earn a Bachelor of Science in education.
He began teaching at Ava High School in Ava, Mo., but after a couple of years, he moved to Webb City.
This is his 20th year there.
“I was glad to be back in Webb City because it was where I was born and raised,” said Eden.
“It is home to me,” Eden added.
In addition to teaching theater and stagecraft, Eden enjoys directing plays.
When he came to Webb City, the schedule included just two plays a year, a fall musical and a spring play.
Then administration asked Eden if he would add a children’s play to the schedule.
He jumped at the opportunity.
“He’s a natural born storyteller, fascinated by unique details of things which he shares with people,” said his wife, Dawn Eden.
Every children’s play that is performed at Webb City High School is written by Eden.
He said his wife, two sons and current and past students sometimes help him with his creative process.
“There are many different ways that I come up with my ideas for the plays, such as dreams, old concepts that I’ve enjoyed, or recommendations from others,” said Eden.
Helping students bring the story to life is a wonderful experience, he says.
“I love working with students, helping them find or learn new things to reach the ‘aha’ moment,” said Eden.
“I’ve worked with Mr. Eden for seven years now and within that time I’ve seen how the students love him,” said Teresa Sumler, theater teacher at Webb City.
“He takes the time to get to know his students and always puts them first,” she added.
Through his years of teaching he has made an impact in the student’s lives.
“Mr. Eden influenced me in a lot of ways,” said Grant Benham, 2015 graduate from Webb City.
“He taught me the love of theater and different ways to challenge how I perform,” he said.
“Mr. Eden helped me unlock a lot of my acting potential,” said Brody Coursey, 2016 graduate from Webb City.
“He always encouraged us to try new things through improvisation during scenes, and a lot of those risks turned into some of my favorite onstage memories,” he said.