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Melynda Wintrol is our brand new Arts Integration Manager. I sat down with her to talk about the Arts Integration program, what led her to pursue this path... and Kathy Bates.

jkj: Tell us a little about yourself!

MW: I grew up and currently reside in Frederick County with my husband, John, and our chocolate lab/hound mix, Ryker, and our two cats. I attended Catholic University’s Rome School of Music and hold a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre. I earned my Master of Science in Nonprofit and Association Management from University of Maryland University College.

As an actor, I have been a member of three Helen Hayes nominated ensembles, and have performed with Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, American Family Theatre, Prather Entertainment Group, Pallas Theatre Collective, Riverside Center, and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. I am a member of EdTA and serve as a Helen Hayes Judge for theatreWashington.

jkj: You spent several years with Adventure Theatre MTC. How did that experience shape your approach to educating youth in theatre?

MW: I was so fortunate to work at ATMTC for six years. I started as a Teaching Artist and over the course of my time there I was promoted through the ranks of the Education Department to Director of Education. My experiences at ATMTC were vast as I oversaw after school programs, residencies, summer programs, Academy classes, and the Pre-Professional Program. The thing is, throughout all of those programs, regardless of the skill level of the student my greatest interest has always been in the well being of the student and the growth of them as a whole person.

jkj: What do you love about Olney’s Arts Integration program?

MW: No two classes are the same, these students are incredibly creative and generally excited for the process. The great thing about the Our Play and My Monologue programs is that they provide a strong framework, but the curriculum can be modified to suit the learning goals of each school. The core curricular tie-ins are endless.

jkj: What excites you most about managing this Arts Integration program? What challenges you the most?

MW: I am most excited about reaching students who may have no idea how exciting and engaging writing, acting, and theatre can be or that there are so many job opportunities in theatre and humanities. I am excited for students to learn what fun it is to work together and have pride in something they accomplished.

The challenge with arts integration programs is that some students are very reluctant to participate because it is unconventional or outside of their comfort zone and highly participatory. But that challenge is incredibly rewarding when those students come around and you see them perform on the final day of the session. While all students are participating in the same program, the demonstrated growth varies by student. The wonderful thing about AI is that we have the opportunity to meet students where they are and work from there.

jkj: How do you see this program evolving over the next few years?

MW: The benefits of Arts Integration have become more and more apparent and supported in recent years. I am excited to see OTC’s Arts Integration Programs reach more students in general but particularly students who are typically underserved. As I grow in the position and continue to develop and foster relationships with community partners and other organizations with a focus on education, I am certain that the opportunities to engage new students will increase. I am excited to continue working with the Development Team to identify funding sources so we can expand programming in counties throughout the DC Metro area and increase our impact.

 jkj: When you’re not managing Olney’s Arts Integration program what else are you doing?

MW: I teach private voice lessons out of my home studio and perform! This year I am looking forward to playing Georgie in The Full Monty at Workhouse Arts Center and Legally Blonde at Cumberland Theatre.

jkj: If you could meet one person living or dead, who would it be, and what would tell them/ask them?

MW:  If I could meet any actor, I would love to have coffee or a drink with Kathy Bates, I love her body of work and she seems to have a great sense of humor and perspective on the world.

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