Friends, colleagues raise funds for Bethany Bereman theater scholarship

In 2011, Juneau lost a valued teacher and community member, Bethany Bereman, to ovarian cancer. Bereman was known for her love of the outdoors, her work in theater, and her inspirational teaching style. Now there will be a scholarship in her name for older high school students and beginning college students with an established interest in theater. Bereman’s friend and colleague, Kristen Garot, kicked off the memorial scholarship drive during December’s Gallery Walk and raised about half of the first year goal.

Kristen Garot organizing the silent auction.

Kristen Garot organizing the silent auction.

Looking for inspirational ideas on how to spend your next big birthday? Theater producer and teacher Kristen Garot has an idea.

“So what we’re looking at tonight is a collection of about 40 plus Juneau artists’ work. It’s my fortieth birthday, so I decided I wanted to collect forty things, or have forty folks contribute. So the silent auction will go until about eight, and Susu and the Prophets, Shona’s band, will start playing around seven and we’ll have a fun dance party,” says Garot.

The art work is displayed in the JACC’s main hall. People walk from piece to piece admiring the work and bidding.

“There’s great collection of masks from Heather Ridgeway’s art students. I wanted to get some current students involved as well as alumni as well as professional artists who have been practicing for a long time. So there’s JDHS grad Brittany Kutterbach, TMHS graduates Lindsay Smithberg and Paris Donohoe, and there are established artists like Rob Roys and MK MacNaughton,” says Garot.

Bethany Bereman taught drama at Juneau-Douglas High School for eight years. Garot says Bereman inspired her to become a theater teacher and producer.

“I think the thing that really struck me was Bethany’s dedication to helping kids. Not just kids who were interested in theater, but any kid who she could make a connection with she would. And she would make connections with kids who struggled making connections with adults. That was a great role model for me to see in the school.”

Among the artists featured in the show is Thunder Mountain High School art teacher Heather Ridgeway. She recalls seeing Bereman’s ability to make connections in action when she walked in on one of her classes one day.

“She had probably forty kids in the dance room at JDHS and they were all sitting on the floor. It was all sort of a relaxed, casual environment and yet they were dead quiet, 100 percent focused on her. She stood in the middle of the room. She was telling a story about how important it was to use dramatic emotional hooks when you are presenting to people in any situation and she was making a connection between her outdoor guiding and theater and the kids were really listening,” says Ridgeway.

Ridgeway says Bereman’s teaching extended beyond the classroom.

“One of the first things she wanted to teach them was to have self respect and self discipline. Not just in theater but in all parts of their life—especially in relationships. And I think drama really helped drive that home for a lot of her students. She brought a lot of kids to a potential they might not have met on their own.”

While the JAHC will be in charge of selection and distributing the funds, Ridgeway has a few ideas on the kind of person Bereman might have chosen.

“Someone that has had to blossom and find themselves and learn the worth of self-discipline and self-confidence in the act of working in theater and drama.”

Garot’s first fundraiser for the Bethany Bereman Memorial Scholarship for Theater Arts Students brought in 5-thousand dollars, half of the 10-thousand dollar goal.


To link to the JAHC’s website and to contribute to the scholarship click here.

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