Check out the many castphotos hanging in the Froelicher Theatre, from Robin Hood to to Seussical, Annie to Pippin, and for nearly a decade the same faces show up on stage—Dori ’08 and Darby Shockley ‘13. In fact, the two girls became so enmeshed in all aspects of Colorado Academy life—arts, academics, athletics—their mother says it felt like CA “became a member of the family.”
“You get drawn lovingly into CA, and it becomes more than just a place,” Ann Shockley says. “You couldn’t really script it, but there’s a magic that happens.”
“I got an “A” experience at CA from the get-go,” adds Dori Shockley Wey. “It set me up for success later in life, because I learned work ethic, how to value myself, and how to value other people.”
How does a school earn such glowing reviews? Ann Shockley has an idea. “Everything always boils down to the people,” she says. “CA has excellent, exceptional, extraordinary education professionals.”
And so when Ann and Lee Shockley wanted to make a gift to the new Leach Center for the Performing Arts, they decided it should honor an educator who had been central to their daughters’ experiences at CA. They chose a person who has studiously avoided the spotlight—until now.
The 2019-2020 school year marks Steve Scherer’s 25th year at CA. During that time, he has worked on more than 100 shows—directing plays and musicals, designing, building, and painting scenery, directing music, and accompanying performances. He does it all in a building that was never meant to be a theater. And yet, with each show he creates magic despite the odds stacked against him—the stage that is not really a stage, the non-functioning heating and cooling, the absence of permanent seating, the outdated lighting and sound system, the dry-rotted falling-down curtains, the lack of space for rehearsal. He does it for one reason—the students.
“I don’t have kids of my own,” he says. “These are my kids. It’s really satisfying to me to know that I had a part in shaping them in some way, artistically or personally.”
Dori and Darby Shockley were two of Steve’s students, and they never forgot what he taught them. Now it is their turn to direct attention to him. “For someone who is in the world of performance, Steve really avoids center stage,” Dori says. “We wanted to call out to everyone that Steve is such an impactful person on this campus.”
This summer, Steve Scherer received a surprise letter from Ann Shockley, excerpted here.
This is a thank-you note. Thank you for how you have elevated the CA theater program and a heartfelt thank-you for all you have given to the CA students over the years. Dori and Darby want you to know that what you taught them about work ethic is still key to them today. Put in the work and you will have the reward of a production you’re proud of, and that is the only way. They valued your fairness. Everyone had to earn what they got—a part, a compliment, or, best of all, a laugh.
Most important to me, both girls identified you as a trusted adult, someone to whom they could bring concerns that were major or minor and feel they would be listened to and not belittled.
Your true legacy will always be the impact you’ve made on all of the young lives you’ve touched. But we wanted you to have a tangible recognition on this campus, to which you have given so much. Therefore, we are honored to dedicate and name the rehearsal room in the new Leach Center for the Performing Arts in honor of you. Clearly, you’ve put in the work, and again, we thank you.
Ann, Lee, Dori, and Darby Shockley
The letter and honor brought Scherer nearly to tears. Instead, he threw up his hands, and, with a hearty laugh, said, “I’m a room! I’m shocked! I’m Shockleyed!!” He is delighted at the prospect of having a rehearsal room for students to use while scenery is built on stage. He eagerly awaits a new facility to showcase student talent.
The greatest delight, however, may have been experienced by the family who gave in Steve’s honor. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” Dori says. “And anyone who has ever spent any time on this campus knows that CA is just the best gift you could possibly give or get.”
“It’s a gift that keeps on giving, that’s for sure,” adds her mother.