Teachers Crack Up During Education Workshop

"Here's Oprah's best friend -- Dr. Phil," a man's voice boomed in the Biloxi High auditorium.

It was hard not to crack up when a phony Dr. Phil took the stage Tuesday.

"Welcome to my wake-up workshop for educators," the actor said.

The performers from "Wavelength" showed the audience how to put a funny spin on serious educational issues, from the No Child Left Behind debate to leadership skills.

"My first order of business is trying to invent a policy of shared decision-making," said an actor dressed as a military man. "I will make all the decisions, and share them with you."

Jim Winter is the president of Wavelength.

"The best teachers always had a great sense of humor. So we use improv, and satire and parody to look at education and, hopefully, give people a new perspective on it."

"This has been like sitting through Saturday Night Live. It really has been. It's been wonderful," said Diane Smith, St. John High School's guidance counselor.

After Katrina, the actors realized South Mississippi really needed a dose of laughter.

"We said, 'Let's not do some of the fundraising stuff in Chicago that some groups are doing. Let's get down there and bring some humor, some laughter, some comic relief to the situation,'" Winter said.

The humorous workshop allowed teachers to poke fun at themselves.

"This is her first year of teaching. She doesn't have to teach. She WANTS to teach," said a couple of sarcastic actors.

The teachers also learned that it's okay to laugh again.

Stephanie Dodd is a teacher at St. John High.

"I enjoyed learning about the non-verbal communication and the laughing techniques. I thought that was very funny."

When asked how they are supposed to laugh, Dodd responded, "Ha, ha, ho, ho, ho. No, it's opposite. It's ho, ho, ha, ha, ha."

Maybe the laughter will spread to the classrooms and put smiles back on the faces of children.

"Wavelength" is based in Chicago, and has entertained educators all over the world. The group will hold another session at Biloxi High School on Wednesday and then take the show to Picayune for two days.