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Award-winning Broadway and movie star Anthony Ramos gave the high school drama teacher a surprise makeover that inspired him as part of a new home makeover series on CBS.
The Bushwick native, famous for “Hamilton” and “In The Heights,” was a natural on stage even as a teenager, said Sara Steinweiss, the South Brooklyn educator who first met the star for. the first time when he auditioned for a musical as a junior at New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst.
âHe thought he was auditioning for a talent show,â Steinweiss told Brooklyn Paper, âbut he was auditioning for a full-scale musical.â
It was then, she said, that she knew Ramos was meant to be an actor – so she encouraged the high school baseball star to join the New Utrecht drama program as well, which he did. done simultaneously.
âI basically told him he was going to be with me the rest of the time and made him become part of the theater program,â she said. “I just knew there was something extremely special about Anthony, that he had to do this in his life.”
But, by the time of graduation, Ramos’ plans for the university met a roadblock.
“There was a lot going on in her house and in her life,” said Steinweiss. “He didn’t get the financial aid papers on time, and things went wrong for him.”
As Ramos pondered alternatives to higher education, his drama teacher suggested he apply to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, a private performing arts conservatory in Manhattan. Determined to help Ramos stay on the path to stardom, Steinweiss paid his candidacy and vouched for him to secure a scholarship through a foundation founded by Jerry Seinfeld.
It was accepted for both “and the rest is pretty much written in history,” she said.
Since then, Ramos and Steinweiss have been like family – and with each new step he takes, he gives his former teacher-turned-friend a front row seat.
âHe invited me to everything, I’m the biggest and the smallest at all times,â said Steinweiss. “I attended the opening night of ‘Hamilton’, I was recently at the premiere of ‘In the Heights’ which was amazing … what a profound moment it all has been.”
And now, for over a decade, the two have been able to star together on the small screen thanks to a recently released episode of CBS Secret Celebrity Renovation, where Ramos gives his beloved mentor a home renovation – however, Steinweiss said. , her former student never owed her a thing.
“He owes me nothing at all,” she said. “My whole thing with anything in life is I think the only thing you owe someone who does something or you is to pay someone else and be a good person. “
In May, Steinweiss was taken from the house she shares with her mother and only returned after the renovations were completed. She arrived to find a completely remodeled bedroom, new office space and a trendy garden remodel she believes only Ramos could have designed for her – and everything she adores.
âIt was a total surprise, I didn’t expect it at all,â she said. “It wasn’t easy to let go of my sense of control, but I trust him so much that I knew there probably wouldn’t be another person I would let do this.”
In the episode, which aired on Friday, July 16, Ramos says he wanted to give Steinweiss her own space, as she lives with and takes care of her mother. The contractors renovated the attic, where his bedroom is located, replacing Steinweiss’ twin beds with a luxurious king-size bed, and added a personal desk next to it. The team also upgraded their backyard with a pool and entertainment area.
âShe’s been an angel in my life,â Ramos says in the episode. “She’s done so much for me.”
âIt was really space-oriented for me,â said Steinweiss. âI don’t think I ever had an experience where everything was around me. It gave me everything I didn’t know I needed.
In his new office, Ramos surprised Steinweiss with framed lyrics from his song “The Good and the Bad”, which chronicles their journey together.
Sara Steinweiss changed my life. She was my theater director and my mentor in high school. Now one of my best friends.
Tell me about your teaching hero or mentor. #MyTeacherHero @DonorsChoose https://t.co/HOjPjAZMqt pic.twitter.com/2hE9XHUDeC
– Anthony Ramos (@ARamosofficial) May 5, 2020
Steinweiss said she hopes the show, more than anything, will highlight the importance of arts education in the city’s public schools, where many programs have been gutted.
âThere have been a lot of changes in the Department of Education,â said Steinweiss, who taught at the agency for over 13 years before stepping down in 2011. âAnd this program that Anthony was a part of, this beautiful program that I built for 13 years. years, they closed the program.
After a brief stint in the office of former Bay Ridge City Council member Vincent Gentile, Steinweiss returned to her roots by opening her own business in 2016 where she trains teachers and students in arts education.
” It’s a necessity. It shouldn’t be an afterthought, it shouldn’t be an after-school program, âshe said. “It should be built into our education system because it saves lives and I decided that I had to move away from the Ministry of Education so that I could be the educator I need to be.”