Candace Berkley teaches an Advanced Placement (AP) class at Dallas Center-Grimes High School. But she came to this position in a very round-about route.
Berkley grew up in Urbandale and graduated from Urbandale High School. Her desire to do something different, go someplace “where I didn’t know anyone,” she says, took her to Arizona State University where she earned her degree in fine arts in theater.
“It was very different from the Midwest,” she says. “But it was a lot of fun, and I met a lot of good people.”
She performed a lot of Shakespeare in many different venues around the country, as well as in Iowa. As part of the Iowa Arts Commission, she performed a solo show about Lou Henry Hoover (wife of former U.S. President Herbert Hoover from Iowa) during a Hoover Fest in West Branch.
“That was videotaped and is kept in the Hoover Library archives,” she says, “It was exciting to meet Lou Henry Hoover, and during the performance she was seated in the front row with members of her family and I got to meet them all.” Berkley says that people visiting the Hoover Library perhaps still can listen to her rendition of that show.
During her years of performing, she had a variety of part-time jobs. One she remembers vividly was working with the Iowa Literacy Commission where she made a commercial for Super Target.
“It was shot at night when the store was empty, and it was done in August, but we had to wear a heavy winter sweater,” she says. “I had to run around the store filling up my basket with lots of items, lots of shoes, lots of sweaters and other things. It took us six hours to shoot a 30-second commercial.”
After her periods of performing Berkley decided she could do something better, so she attended Drake University where she earned her master’s degree in English.
“My first teaching job was as adjunct teacher at Des Moines Area Community College” she says. Berkley came to DC-G in 1991 as part-time English, drama and yearbook teacher. In 1993 she became a full-time teacher and continued for 15 years in that position.
“Five years ago, I began teaching all Advanced Placement classes at DC-G (done in conjunction with DMACC),” Berkley says. “Students earn dual credits, from DC-G and DMACC.”
At that time, she gave up the drama and yearbook assignments.
“I miss the drama part of teaching,” Berkley says.” I miss the people, actors. They are interesting people, performers. I do miss some of the yearbook work also.”
Berkley says the AP classes are growing.
“This past year, I had 86 students, and already for next year I will have 100,” she says. “And we are including creative writing in the next curriculum.”
She says she really enjoys reading what the students write, but it takes a good deal of time to read it all.
“Teaching is pretty tame compared with working with actors.” she says.