From helping students move toward their goals to becoming an ambassador for the Our 3 campaign, Hansen’s dedication has been well known in the Greenville community. “It takes a village to do what we do,” Hansen said of her and her husband, Bob. “We couldn’t do what we do without them (the students).”
Because of Hansen’s passion for theater, she wanted to get involved with students at Greenville Public Schools (GPS), but found there were not many options for theater in schools at the time. She began working with younger students in plays and worked her way into helping high school-aged students with acting.
In the 1990s, a group of students came to Hansen wanting more options to perform, asking her to be the group’s drama adviser. Of course, she accepted. Later on, when GPS built its auditorium, options for theater expanded.
“It exploded,” Hansen said. “It blossomed on a whole new level.”
The school started adding programs like musicals at the high school and feeder programs where music was introduced to students at a young age. Hanson said students who participate in arts and theater learn valuable life lessons just like students who participate in sports. The students are able to learn and work as a group, build self confidence and express themselves.
Preserving the theater experience
Now that funding for schools is becoming minimal and programs such as the arts and theater are being cut, Hansen said she worries students will not get opportunities to participatein arts and theater for much longer.
“(Theater is) so exciting for me,” she said of the arts. “It’s the soul of the people.”
To help promote awareness for the arts and theater program, along with other programs at GPS, both Ruth and Bob Hansen have become ambassadors for the OUR 3 campaign. The OUR 3 campaign is a $1 million endowment campaign to assure future funding of critical-programming areas of GPS. Areas include performing arts, athletics and academics.
“We are a very blessed community with many forward-thinking people,” Hansen said. “We are excited and humbled (to be named ambassadors).”
In a recent interview, Bob Hansen said with school budget cuts resulting in programs being cut, the endowment fund is crucial for the survival of programs at Greenville High School.
“In this day and age, if you don’t have some outside help, it isn’t going to continue the way it is,” he said.” If you want to keep the same level of heart going into this system, it has to come from the local people. It’s kind of sad, but that’s the only way you can keep it going.”
GPS Board of Education President Janet Ralph said Ruth Hansen has been a driving force in promoting the arts in the school, and has impacted many students by sharing her time and energy.
“Ruth learned many years ago that her passion for drama could benefit children and youth,” Ralph said. “She has shared her talents in the community and in the schools because she understands that the lessons learned by performing in or helping produce a play have life long benefits.”