Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters: Changing the FSS Theater World

Stephanie+Kyung+Sun+Walters%3A+Changing+the+FSS+Theater+World

Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters, Friends Select’s new Drama Teacher and last year’s Writer-in-Residence, views education as a collaborative process and has big plans for amplifying student voices. 

Before teaching theater and writing for nearly 13 years, Stephanie grew up in North Wales, PA, and attended North Penn High School, where she graduated with 1100 classmates. Hoping for a tighter-knit community, she pursued a performance major at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, and later received her MFA in playwriting and screenwriting. Before the pandemic, Stephanie worked as a preschool teacher – as well as teaching theater and playwriting at a variety of schools – and returned to teaching after the pandemic settled. She discovered that many of her students were set to attend Friends Select School for kindergarten. 

“The families were just so positive about their experience going to a friend’s school, and as an educator, I saw a difference in their children; I saw how they became more intentional, they became more thoughtful, they became more inquisitive about things… and I thought, ‘well, this seems like something that is worth exploring for myself.’” Stephanie says. 

In love with the influence of a Quaker education on young minds, Stephanie worked as a theater and creative writing teacher at a friends school in New Jersey, before joining the FSS community in 2022. “It just felt like a lot of… arrows were pointing me in this direction,” she explains. “I was excited about being in a space that’s more autonomous as an educator and gives a lot of autonomy to students, as well.”

Teaching is not Stephanie’s only passion, however. She is a performer and a playwright, and her work has taken her across the country. She writes predominantly about Philadelphia, especially Koreatown, and won the 2022 Terrence McNally award at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, where she workshopped the third play in her trilogy, Acetone Wishes and Plexiglass Dreams. 

As Friends Select’s writer-in-residence last year, Stephanie performed another original piece in the Blauvelt Theater. “I brought excerpts from the second play in my trilogy, called Half of Chopsticks,” she says. That piece was also super fun for me because we got to have another professional actor come in and read the other roles, and student Ben Yerkes (‘26) was also onstage with us, which kind of felt like… ‘Oh, this is what I want, I want so deeply to create opportunities for this next generation of artists.’”

In the spring of 2023, Stephanie directed the FSS production of Clue. “Seeing how the school kind of comes together for different events, that was really impactful…” she says.  “Everyone pitches in for the productions, there’s a lot of opportunity for you all to figure out what you like to do, and change your mind and say, ‘I wanna try this, but I don’t like it anymore, I’m gonna do something else.’ It’s really nice to see that.”

Sarah Gorenstein ‘24, a consistent participant in FSS productions over the years, speaks highly of Stephanie. “I think she is a great new part of our community, and it’s nice to have somebody come in who’s already worked at Friends Select before, and is really open to learning… Friends Select[‘s] values, and is super eager to be a teacher here,” says Sarah. 

Suzanne Morrison, the English Department Chair, says, “After seeing Stephanie’s impressive resume, reading some of her work, and meeting with her, she seemed like the perfect fit for our 2023-24 Visiting Writer.  She shared her playwriting talents, her humor, and her creative expertise with us this past April. And we are so fortunate now to have her as a full-time teacher and mentor in our FSS community!”

Regarding her plans for the theater department, Stephanie explains, I want to also create some opportunity of cohesion for rising middle school actors and our upper school actors. I’m certainly very interested in having more women writers [and] more writers of color being produced on our stage, and just looking at more contemporary options.”

Stephanie designs her curriculum based on student interests. “I’m just hoping to make a space that feels very welcoming and creative. I’m a big proponent of what interests this group. I think that my drama class from year to year will always look quite different,” she explains. 

On a completely different “note”, if Stephanie were a perfume, her fragrance notes would be white tea and jasmine, reminiscent of a fancy relaxing hotel by the sea”, as she puts it; that being said, she’s inclined towards something musky and woodsy this time of year. 

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About the Contributor
Niamh Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Niamh Williams is a senior at Friends Select School and a co-editor-in-chief for The Falcon. Her beats are history, math, and English curricula. She is also a leader of the Quakerism Club.

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