A love of theater has brought a Hastings native back to her roots as an actor educator within Hastings Public Schools. Marisa Tejeda remembers her third-grade self sitting class at Pinecrest Elementary watching actors from CLIMB Theatre teach lessons through theater. She thought, "I want to do that."

Tejeda said she had an interest in theater from a young age, but she was more involved in sports. However, once she starting acting she just continued moving forward. She was part of the theater program at Hastings High School, where she really got inspired to try to do theater professionally.

Tejeda ended up transferring to Avalon Charter School in St. Paul her senior year of high school in order to perform in the Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

From there, she attended Concordia University in St. Paul where she went to school for theater. It was in her theater program that she was reminded of CLIMB Theatre. Buffy Sedlachek, producer of excellence in performance at CLIMB, directed a musical Tejeda was a part of at Concordia. After learning more about CLIMB from Sedlachek, she thought the children's touring theater would be a great thing for her to do after graduation.

Now, Tejeda is performing with CLIMB Theater full-time. In fact, she was just at Hastings Middle School on Dec. 13, where she performed for the sixth graders in "Taking a Stand," a show about anti-bullying. At the end of the performance, the cast discussed ways to prevent bullying or stand up to it.

But anti-bullying isn't the only message that CLIMB teaches through performance. Tejeda said they also do plays about taking care of the environment, drug prevention and more. She said the theatrical message is a great way for kids to learn the message without even knowing it.

"Sometimes through media and stuff they don't know that they're learning things," Tejeda said.

She said that there is a first-grade show that CLIMB performs about a mouse girl who gets picked on. The theatrical play talks through what kids can do to avoid getting picked on, which they learn through a hip hop rapping owl.

"It's really fun for the kids to engage in these things while also learning how to stand up for themselves and how to stand up for their friends," Tejeda said.

The interactive way of learning through CLIMB theater is fun for the kids and it teaches them important lessons, Tejeda said. Starting in 2017, Tejeda said she will be learning a new script and message to perform in schools. This time it will be about drug prevention.