Jim Vagias has worn a lot of hats in his lifetime. He’s been an attorney, a theatre administrator (including a ten year stint as the Executive Director of the American Stage Company in Teaneck, NJ – the company that birthed the extremely popular musical, I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE), a teacher, an actor and a magician. He now combines these last three careers and uses his many talents to entertain and teach school children important life lessons. To those countless students who have been touched by his student assembly programs he’s known as “Magic Jim.” STAGE Magazine’s News Reporter, Jim Hilgen, had an opportunity recently to speak with Mr. Vagias….click here to enjoy his video interview….
Vagias has been using his skills as an entertainer and speaker for over 30 years. As a former teacher, Jim combines his background in education with his theater skills and a passion for magic to make him the most sought-after school assembly performer in Northeast. With those skills, and a love of children, he creates school assemblies during which he encourages kids to read, shows them how to create a bully-free environment and teaches them about the various holiday celebrations that take place in other cultures.
Vagias, who lives in Central New Jersey with his wife and family has taken his message to schools and libraries in his home state as well as to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Many of those locations have invited him back several times.
Often dressed in a colorful vest, and always with a pleasant and engaging style, “Magic Jim” begins his connection with the students by using magic tricks to capture the attention of school aged children. He says it’s at this point the assemblies grow so quiet “you could hear a pin drop.” And once the kids are won over by his magic tricks, he begins delivering his true message.
The students learn, for example, that if they want to find out how to perform magic tricks, or how to build a kite, or about any topic under the sun, the library is the place to go. He describes books as magical in their own right, because they open up countless worlds to young readers. “Magic Jim” keeps his literacy message focused on books and going to libraries, rather than reading on the internet because he says it’s books, and the many doors they can open, that will truly instill a lifelong love of learning in children.
Vagias addresses bullying by impressing on his young charges the importance of being a person of character. Again, through the use of magic and some games involving audience participation, he illustrates that by following the rules and being responsible and caring individuals, there is no place in the world for bullies.
Beginning around Thanksgiving every year, and running throughout the winter holiday season, Vagias uses his easygoing way with children to give them some insight into how those outside the Judeo-Christian tradition commemorate important religious times. During those assemblies he uses magic and comedy to tell the kids about Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Diwali and other high holy celebrations around the world.
In addition to his school assembly programs, Vagias offers presentations on bullying for parents and faculty and can provide his services to help parent groups with fundraising. He’s so sure of the effectiveness of his performances that he pledges to refuse his fee if those hiring him are not fully satisfied. A guarantee he says he’s never had to honor.
More information on Jim Vagias and his assemblies is available online at www.educationalproductions.com. To book “Magic Jim”, or to talk with him about what he can do for your school or library call 732-238-8139.