Jessie’s Story: From the silver screen to teaching kids to shine

Actress Jessica Klauss, known as Jessie, has had an exciting career across several countries, encompassing film, TV, and the theatre. Now, she's in her most fulfilling role yet: teaching kids to love performing.

Jessie's Story: From the silver screen to teaching kids to shine
Jessica Klauss went from roles on the stage and screen to running two Stagecoach Performing Arts franchises. Photo: Supplied

From a creepy turn as a backwoods dweller in the independent horror film ‘Cannibal Diner’, to directing experimental adaptations of Friedrich Schiller’s poetry in Frankfurt, German-born Jessie has always enjoyed a challenge.

“For most of my twenties and into my early thirties, I worked with children alongside my stage career, teaching dance and acting, inspiring them to unlock their creativity.”

A new kind of role

It was this love of working with kids that inspired her to investigate teaching the performing arts to children, on a full time basis. 

“In 2009 I saw an advertisement for a new Stagecoach Performing Arts school in Wiesbaden, in my state of Rheinland-Pfalz, who needed a dance coach. I applied and have been teaching there since day one.

“The highlight is always the start of the trimester, when new students arrive. It’s wonderful sending happy children home, bright-eyed, within the space of three hours.

“It means so much to them. They gain more courage, make new friends, learn to communicate in different ways, and simply get to be who they are. 

“Unfortunately, being yourself is not always so easy in today’s world, but at Stagecoach, I think it is!

“We have a wonderful team, and that is reflected in how much fun our kids have, and how much this makes parents happy.

“Teaching at Stagecoach is easy — you quickly realise that the concept works, and it’s a tested, highly-acclaimed formula.”

Taking centre-stage

Three years later, Jessie would be offered a unique, even bigger opportunity.

“In 2012, I had the opportunity to take over Stagecoach Wiesbaden. It was a big decision for me, financially. I would also need to transition from being a teacher, which I loved, to being a business owner and Principal.”

“It was difficult in the beginning. Not only because I loved to teach, I had to also lead a team of adults, which was completely new to me. I was an absolute beginner.”

“Before I took over the school, however, I had an intensive week of training in Germany and got to know the team in England. 

“The franchise support team in England communicates so well and I feel valued, not as one of many but as an individual. This is very important to me.

“Being part of a franchise was really essential, going into business. I like to work with people; having a support structure and a responsive team allows me to expand my vision for the school.

“I also receive regular online updates to my training, and have opportunities to speak to other franchisees about the challenges they have encountered.”

Want to turn your love of the performing arts into a full-time business, like Jessie? Learn more about becoming a Stagecoach franchisee in 2023!

Jessie with Franchise Support Team members, Jayne Middleton and Ross Millington. Photo: Supplied

As the years progressed, Jessie could see her hard work at Stagecoach Wiesbaden paying off. In 2016, after the birth of her son Henri, she opened a second school in the region. Within five years, student enrolment in her schools had increased by 350 percent.

Even though she now operates two schools, with more on the way, Jessie feels that she still has the kind of work-life balance that she used to dream about as a professional performer.

“Henri and I love nothing more than packing up our converted camper van at short notice and travelling around the area with our dog for a few days.”

“We’re able to live that lifestyle because of the freedom my Stagecoach franchises allow me. I can work on administration from the road and still make sure I’m back home to teach on Friday and Saturdays.

“The Stagecoach model works so well that earlier this year, I felt comfortable enough to invest some of my income into expanding into my second region. 

“Launching another school in the town of Hanau means I can offer classes to even more students and set a real example for Henri too.”

Watch: Learn more about Stagecoach’s mission from the school’s Principals, including Jessie

In the Spotlight 

Whilst the Stagecoach Performing Arts Head Office is in the UK, the Support Team regularly visit franchisees. These regional meetings, known as ‘In the Spotlight’, are designed to allow franchisees to come together and share their knowledge, celebrate their success, network amongst their peers and collaborate.

Following the latest meeting for the German franchisees, Jessie hosted Stagecoach’s senior management team at her Hanau school, where the talents of her students were showcased, to great acclaim.

“I am so proud that I can offer them fantastic performance experiences, like taking part in showcase events.

“It’s not just for my school — we have events which see Stagecoach children from all over Germany taking part in professional performances, including Disneyland Paris.

“I wish I’d had access to something like that when I was younger.”

Performing opportunities aside, it is the everyday business of introducing children to acting, dancing, and singing that gives Jessie the most fulfilment.

“When my students leave happy after a class, that is just as great as the applause I used to get when I was on stage. 

“The next generation has an opportunity to play on the stage of life.”

Wherever life takes them, the ‘Creative Courage for Life’ that Stagecoach and Jessie have given them will serve them well. 

Stagecoach is expanding not only in Germany, but Canada and Australia too. Start 2023 with your own Stagecoach franchise, helping kids learn to love performing!

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Six golden rules for creating the ideal German cover letter and résumé

Applying for jobs is never simple but it can feel even more difficult in a foreign country when you’re unfamiliar with the language and job market. In a bid to make the process easier, The Local asked recruitment experts for their best tips to successfully apply for a job in Germany.

Six golden rules for creating the ideal German cover letter and résumé
Photo: DPA

This article is available to Members of The Local. Read more Membership Exclusives here.

Make every sentence count

We all know it’s important to stand out from the crowd when it comes to job hunting, but recruitment expert Chris Pyak, author of How to Win Jobs and Influence Germans, said there is very little time to win over busy HR departments in Germany.

“It’s important to know that on average surveys show that HR people will only look at your CV for 7-12 seconds before they decide if they’ll dump it or take a closer look,” Pyak tells The Local. “That means that in the first paragraph you need to give HR a really good reason why they should be interested.”

Pyak, who is based in Düsseldorf and helps expats find work, advises job-seekers to avoid repetition in their resume/CV and cover letter because it’s a “waste of time” – and instead try the stereotypical German way of being direct and getting straight to the point.

Less is more on the CV

Do your research when it comes to your Lebenslauf or resume by looking up the European standard and finding templates online. Resumes and CVs differ in every country even though many of the sections are similar throughout, such as ‘personal data’ (Persönliche Angaben),  ‘work experience’ (Berufserfahrung), ‘education’ (Ausbildung), ‘skills’ and 'extracurricular activities' (Qualifikationen und Kenntnisse) as well as ‘hobbies’ and ‘personal interests’ (Private Interessen). In Germany, it is not uncommon to sign and date your CV. 

“When it comes to CVs, less is more,” says Nick Dunnett, managing director for Germany and Switzerland at international recruitment company Robert Walters. “Nobody wants to read a 10 page CV, so keep it concise and relevant.”

You should also try to avoid gaps in your CV, says Pyak. “We have German angst, uncertainty is something we don’t handle very well so remove the fear from us by not having any gaps.”

And if you want to know if the company prefers you to include a photograph or not, just call them and ask. “The best thing to do is call the HR department and ask what they prefer. Don’t guess if you can ask,” says Pyak.

Under Germany's anti-discrimination law, photographs are not mandatory, but they are more common than they are in some countries. If you do include one, says Dunnett, the main thing is to get it done professionally. 
“It is better not to have a photograph at all than to have one which isn't professional,” he says. “After all, you are applying for a professional job.”

Target the employer's needs in your cover letter by picking up the phone first

When you’re preparing an application, Pyak advises calling the company to find out what their biggest problems are and then write about how you can provide solutions in your application. “If you find out what keeps the manager awake at night, then you can talk about that in your cover letter,” Pyak says.

Think about starting your letter by thanking the company for the conversation and mentioning the problems you discussed on the phone. You can then explain how you helped someone else solve a similar problem and what the outcome of this was. And in the last part you should thank the company and express your hope for an interview. “That’s your covering letter there, you don't really need anything else” adds Pyak.

Striking the right tone can often be difficult in written German, so if in doubt, you should go for the traditional greetings such as “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren” and “Mit freundlichen Grüßen”.

“Parts of the market are still quite traditional and some employers will like to be addressed in a formal manner,” says Dunnett. 

Look for jobs with smaller companies

It’s not easy to bypass HR and get through to the manager, but Pyak says you should try and speak to your potential future supervisor if possible. In some companies, though, this may not be possible. Job hunters should look to the less well-known companies for more success, according to Pyak.

“Companies like Trivago get 40,000 applications every month so they don’t have time to talk to every person on the phone,” he says. “Move away from the top 40 companies. There are 350,000 great companies in Germany and they all have difficulties hiring staff, so there are jobs out there.”

Don’t think of yourself as just a job-seeker

It’s easy to feel like employers have all the power, but why not think of yourself as an asset? You are someone who can make a difference to these workplaces and you could be a valuable member of the team.

“Think of yourself as a consultant who wants to help another person solve his problems,” says Pyak. “That’s the way you interact with the employer. You spend a lot of time on the research, then based on this diagnosis you prescribe a solution.”

Be honest about your language skills

When it comes to finding jobs in Germany, it is, of course, easier and beneficial when you know the language. But if you’re still learning or aren’t so confident then Pyak suggests mixing it up. “Some of my coaching clients had really good results by writing the cover letter in English and writing the CV in German,” he says. “Here you are being open about your language skills but you still make it easy to understand what you can do.”

Openness is crucial – you should be careful not to oversell your language skills. The proof, after all, will always be in the pudding.

“If you overstate your fluency, you will very quickly be found out,” says Dunnett. “If you say you are at C1 level, then the next step would always be to ask you to conduct a business interview in German.”

Find English-language roles in Germany on The Local Jobs