CUSD Alumni Feature: Michael Silberblatt

Posted by: District 3 years, 1 month ago

CUSD Alumni Feature: Michael Silberblatt

When Michael Silberlatt moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Coronado in 2003 as an incoming sixth grader, the cross-country move sent him on a trajectory that changed his academic career and significantly impacted his entire future. Michael says, “I credit CUSD for setting me on a really good path toward self-confidence and academic achievements.”

Michael was quite the troublemaker in elementary school. He recalls being sent to his elementary school’s front office on a handful of occasions due to classroom interruptions, tardiness, and misbehavior.

On his second day at Coronado Middle School, Michael, having just moved to Coronado the week prior to start the 6th grade, forgot which bus stop to get off at for school in the morning. After missing his stop by miles and getting stranded at the San Diego 12th & Imperial Transit Center, a friendly local helped him reverse his route and make his way safely back to the island. Michael arrived at campus two hours late. The incident of an 11-year-old CUSD student getting lost on public transit made the local paper.

Fresh off of the bus mishap and worried about shaping his reputation at a new school, Michael was called to meet with the CMS principal. Much to his surprise, rather than scolding or punishing him, Principal Nancy Girvin (who is now retired) praised and rewarded his efforts to make it back to school safely. “It was a meeting that I thought was going to be a punitive one; but instead, I got this unexpected positive reinforcement,” he says. “I got this attention for being a ‘good student’ - something I never previously felt I was… and from then on, I really took studies seriously to recreate that ‘good student’ feeling.”

Setting the Stage at COSA

Another chance encounter, so to speak, changed Michael’s trajectory again, turning him from a shy, introverted student into someone who thrives in the spotlight. In eighth grade, he enrolled in the performing arts class on a whim. “I didn’t actually care very much for the performing arts at the time,” he says, “but that class completely turned everything around.”

A year after starting the performing arts class, Michael auditioned for, and was accepted into, Coronado School of the Arts (COSA). The program introduced him to YoungArts—an artistic competition that celebrates emerging artists from across the country. During Michael’s senior year, he won in each level of the competition. To this day, that organization has an influential and consistent presence in his life..

After graduating from CHS, Michael continued his education at Northwestern University (NU), where he graduated as a theater major with a double minor in film and business.

Stepping into the Spotlight

Toward the end of his time at NU, Michael was chosen as one of four students to participate in a TEDx Talk symposium. His talk, Why Little Red Riding Hood Was Wrong, is a parable about how diversifying your experiences and not falling into a habitual routine can reinvigorate you and help you find your passion and happiness. The experience was a lesson in and of itself: it was the first time he had to draft an original, public presentation to be edited to fit the tone and message of a cohesive, larger event. “It was a really good learning lesson, especially in compromise,” he remembers. “But I think I’m proud in the end. I think the overall message came across.” 

After graduation, Michael traded in the TEDx stage for Shakespeare. He performed as Edmund in a three-month production of King Lear at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Michael then moved to New York City where he’s been doing voiceovers, TV, film, and theater work for the last three and a half years. When he’s not performing, he manages international education programs and provides test prep services. Last summer, he managed an education program in Doha, Qatar, and just last month he traveled to Mexico City to spearhead a new test prep program with the American School Foundation.

Ultimately, it was his education at CUSD that helped him step into the spotlight and gain confidence as a student and performer. Group projects taught him how to compromise and communicate effectively; teachers were supportive and proactively encouraging; and COSA gave him vital performance training for his current endeavors.