Fri, 01 Jan 2021
Debbi’s children also attend and love Razzamataz
Razzamataz Theatre Schools was established in 2000 and offers training in dance, drama and singing, together with opportunities to perform. Debbi Ledwith is the principal of franchise Razzamataz Newbury as well as working part time as a teacher. She tells N2 about how she balances all her commitments, lockdown and her passion for the arts.
“We were delighted to get back to our face-to-face classes in December – it was so lovely to see all our students and Razz Families again and to reassure them that we will see them through whatever comes next. Performing arts sessions have been a huge support for many children during recent times and we are so pleased and proud that our students have proved to be extremely resilient and diligent, whether working with us online or at Newbury College. The team at Razzamataz Newbury is looking forward to 2021 and all the opportunities that it offers us.”
DEBBI qualified as a secondary school teacher of performing arts in 1992 and was the head of performing arts at a school in Basingstoke from 2000. She has three children – Daniel, 12, and Christopher and Jenna, who are both 10.
So what attracted you to the Razzamataz franchise?
My friend knew I was looking for a career change and she suggested a franchise theatre school to me as an option. I have never run my own business before and I had never really considered it until I found out more about Razzamataz. I had to learn a lot, I had to start from the very beginning in some areas, but it has been totally worth it. Being a part of Razzamataz is like being part of an extended family. There is always someone to ask for help and usually someone has encountered the problem before, so you don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel.
How do you manage the work/life balance?
By being disciplined. Three days a week I spend the whole day at my desk, working through the various elements of running a Razzamataz school. The other two weekdays I am working in school, so it’s important that I
prioritise, although the flexible nature of Razzamataz means I can catch up in the evenings if I need to. Saturday mornings are spent at Razzamataz and I usually take Saturday afternoons off. Then Sunday I do the odd bit, depending on what the family are doing, ready to get back into it on Mondays. I am currently having an office built and I think that this will help me to shut the door on my work at the end of the day.
How has your team and students coped during the Covid pandemic?
I am beyond proud of my team. During lockdown they all had to move massively out of their comfort zones and learn lots of new skills. They didn’t complain once and were a great support to me as I was trying to figure it all out. The team have adjusted incredibly quickly to teaching during Covid and have taken everything in their stride. The students similarly are adapting to everything that is being done to keep them safe.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a Razzamataz principal, especially in this climate?
It means such a lot to see our students every week and to know that we are still able to give them a good performing arts education, even in these challenging times. I love being my own boss and working to my own schedule, this really works for me.
How does the flexible nature of Razzamataz suit you?
I love being able to work around my life and my family. This flexible working method enables me to be there for my three children whenever they need me. Making the decision to invest in a Razzamataz school was the best one I could have made – I could never go back now.
How has Razzamataz helped you as a person?
I like the challenges that we are set, such as the Facebook challenge during lockdown. I am extremely competitive and these kinds of things really work for me. I also love the awards at conference, for the same reason. Razzamataz is completely supportive of growth and on hand with ideas to make this happen.
How important are the arts for children today?
Extremely important. As a secondary school teacher, I can see how much it means to my students to have an outlet for their emotions and feelings. It is the same at Razzamataz, our students need the creativity and escapism in their lives right now. It is for this reason that I want to continue to grow and to share my love of Razzamataz with as many students as possible.
What advice can you offer anyone considering a franchise?
What are you waiting for? If you love performing arts and working with children and want a job that is rewarding then go for it. The more you put in, the better it is.
Contact Debbi on (01635) 905404
Award-winning Debbi with her team and students at Newbury
Strike a pose: the students at Razzamataz Newbury
The Razzamataz Newbury team adapted so well during the COVID pandemic