As they grow toward adulthood, aspiring stage performers tend to see the world through red-carpet-colored glasses. Scott Harnisch was no exception
Now, as a music educator at both Kyrene del Norte and Kyrene de las Manitas schools, he knows how important it is to give parents the sometimes unwelcome news that visions of performance careers can fade almost overnight, despite years of expectation and hope.
“I had a very successful career; made it to Broadway three times,” recalls Harnisch. He basked in the enjoyment of glitter-filled events, and grew to see his future in those terms.
“You think your life is just a red-carpet event. But it’s really a lot of hard work.” And, potentially, disappointment.
For Harnisch, the disillusionment came when injury struck. “I dislocated my hip and I knew I definitely couldn’t dance anymore.”
That was when he also realized it was time to reconsider his future, ultimately earning master’s and doctoral degrees, the latter with a focus on special education.
Armed with those credentials and a new long-term goal, Harmisch decided to spend his remaining years as a music teacher and as an ambassador for the International Alliance for the Prevention of AIDS, from which he will soon receive the prestigious Child’s Life Award for demonstrating a commitment and taking action to eliminate the impact of HIV/AIDS on children around the world.
In his eight years working with IAPA in a multitude of roles, he became the group’s summer intern coordinator, where last year he led 14 interns and two student coordinators on a life-fulfilling experience in India teaching HIV/AIDS prevention.
He will return there this summer with a new set of interns to continue the work to eradicate HIV/AIDS while continuing to make IAPA a positive, relevant agent of change worldwide.
As a result of those efforts, Harnisch will be recognized by the group at its 13th annual Hope in the Face of Aids dinner on March 30, an event that brings together hundreds of supporters in the fight to end AIDS.
Until then, on his Kyrene home turf, Harnisch says he will continue to help kids improve their performance skills and work toward parents understanding that, despite the “magic” that theatre brings to young lives, reaching that goal “can be a hard road to travel.”
“I want to make sure parents have the real picture. They know that (performing) can be a wonderful world, but along the way they have to figure out what happens along the way.”
Some parents, but not all, accept his words of wisdom—and experience.
“I believe it’s really important to tell them the facts, and (at the same time) assure them you’re not trying to crush their dream.”
No matter what happens, the magic can still be out there.
“And,” he says, “that magic is called hard work.”