Learning The Craft Teacher Bios

About Our Teachers

Kate Altieri (Music Theatre Dance)

Kate Altieri Kate Altieri is a Sophomore at Northern Kentucky University as a BFA Musical Theatre major. She teaches Basic Musical Theatre Dance for the Children's theatre and is also part of the ArtReach program as a Guest Teaching artist. After she graduates, she hopes to go on to Broadway and be cast as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, and also open her own theater to teach the art of musical theatre. She is a member of the Theta Phi Alpha sorority and hails from Loveland, OH. Kate has been performing since she could walk and talk. Kate appeared in two show choirs at Loveland, the high school choir (By Request) for four years, and the middle school choir (Revolution) for two years. She holds awards such as Best Female Vocalist in a show (2 years). She was recently just cast in the Falcon Theatre's productions of Batboy as Shelly. She has been in productions of Legally Blonde (Galean) at Northern Kentucky University,  And Loveland High Schools Productions of Grease (Rizzo) Seussical the Musical (Mayzie) Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Silly Girl) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Wife).

Jennifer Jill Araya (Vocal Music)

Jennifer Jill Araya

A West Virginia native, Jennifer Jill Araya has lived and performed in Cincinnati since 2004. Together with her husband, Arturo, she is a member of the Araya Duo, a regionally recognized chamber ensemble. With the duo, Jennifer has performed in a wide variety of concert venues, including the the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Party of Note” dinner concert series and the Augusta (KY) Art Guild's Easter Music Festival. Individually, Jennifer has performed widely as both a vocalist and as a cellist. She is the recipient of the Hedricks Chamber Music Performance Grant and the Margaret A. Wulsin Career Development Grant, and she played the role of "Young Judy Garland" in the Showboat Majestic's 2012 production of  Babes in Hollywood.  She has performed as a featured cello soloist with the West Virginia University Arts Orchestra and as a featured soprano soloist with the Fairmont State University Orchestra and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Chorale. Her solo recitals have been enjoyed by audiences in West Virginia, Ohio, and Virginia. Jennifer is also an active orchestral musician, serving in the cello sections of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she studied voice with Mary Henderson- and studied  cello with Lee Fiser.

Brooke Batchelor (Vocal Music)

Brooke Batchelor Brooke Batchelor finished her Masters of Music in 2011 at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), where she also completed her Bachelors of Music in 2009. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Ms. Batchelor was the winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Northern Alabama District in 2008, and placed third in the MONC Auditions Mid-South Region that same year. She is currently in her second season with Cincinnati Opera performing in classics such as Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier, and Aida. Previous credits with Cincinnati Opera include I Pagliacci and La Traviata. Her credits at CCM include Flora in The Turn of the Screw, Cupid in Orpheus in the Underworld, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, and L’Écureuil in L’Enfant et les Sortiléges. In both 2010 and 2011, Ms. Batchelor was a semi-finalist in the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition and placed second in the Friends of the Lima Symphony Young Artist Competition (2008, 2010). Growing up in Knoxville, Ms. Batchelor studied the Suzuki method of violin and piano for over 15 years and played violin in the Knoxville Youth Orchestra. In addition to her classical training, she was raised in a bluegrass household where she and her sisters frequently preformed alongside their father in his bluegrass band. She is an accomplished fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and banjo player in this genre and thoroughly enjoys using her homegrown skills.

Lauren Crawford (Tap)

Lauren Crawford Lauren Crawford has loved dance ever since the ripe old age of five. She is presently a Junior at Northern Kentucky University. She started her dance studies with Marlyn Scott, Amy Geiman and Lisa Davis at Manyet Dance. Since then she has honed her dancing ability by studying with Heather Britt (Uptown Arts, Northern Kentucky University and the Cincinnati Ballet) as well as Jay Goodlett (Cincinnati Ballet). She has had the privilege of dancing at the Florence mall in Dance for Heart, in regional nursing homes and for Ronald McDonald House Charities. As a competitive dancer, Lauren has toured the United States. She is proud to have participated in DEA competitions and numerous competitions and conventions regionally. For the past two years she has been a member of the NKU Dance Team who competes annually at the UDA National Dance Competition at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. She also dances for the NKU Tour Troupe, a performing group that tours the Tri-State area showcasing different forms of dance. Lauren, an Entrepreneurship major with a dance minor, looks forward to graduating and sharing her love of dance with generations to come.

Shannon M. Ditto (Drama)

Shannon M. Ditto Shannon M. Ditto found her passion for the theatre arts while performing in multiple shows throughout her high school years, which lead her to interning at The University of Findlay’s SummerStock Theatre (Findlay, OH), her Junior and Senior year.  She went on to obtain her B.A. from the University of Findlay in Theatre Performance and Theatre Production/Design. While attending UF, Shannon performed, stage managed and directed shows for the Fort Findlay Playhouse, Findlay Light Opera Company, and Putnam County Children’s Theatre. Shannon graduated with a Master’s Degree from Emerson College (Boston, MA) in Multiple Age Theatre Education, and taught playwriting skills to elementary students with the Coyote Theatre Project. She has taught theatre for several summer camps and afterschool programs including: LeadAmerica (Bronx, NY) B.A.S.E. (Braintree, MA), ACT@St. Andrew’s (Providence, RI), and Drama Kids International (North East Cincinnati). Through theatre, Shannon hopes to equip students of all ages with communication skills and confidence they will use to reach their future academic, career, and life goals.  She is currently working as a Before School Site Asst. for the Champions Program in the Sycamore Community School District, and is extremely excited to come aboard The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati teaching team.

Deb. G. Girdler (Drama, Vocal Music)

Deb. G. Girdler

Deb began her career on the Showboat Majestic, performing on over 46 productions from the 1970s to 1992. She was a Musical Theatre major at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, and has been a Union actress for 35 years, working Off-Broadway, in regional theatres (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Players’ Theatre of Columbus, Olney Theatre, and Cohoes Music Hall, just to name a few), also in summer stock (Hampton Playhouse for 10 seasons, Brunswick Music Theatre, Gateway Playhouse), and in industrial shows.  Deb has directed shows on cruise ships and for King’s Productions. She received two Acclaim Awards, was twice presented with the “Best Performer of the Season” Award at the Cohoes Music Hall, and was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award at the Olney Theatre.  Deb is an instructor with “After School Acting” and is the director for their Musical Theatre workshop.

Jay Goodlett (Ballet, Jazz and Drama)

Jay Goodlett Born at Dayton’s Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Jay Goodlett attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Cincinnati for nine years majoring in dance, drama, and musical theatre. By the age of 18, Jay joined the Cincinnati Ballet and rose quickly to the rank of Senior Soloist by 2002. Jay enjoyed 17 seasons with Cincinnati Ballet retiring in 2008. In 1991, Jay began his choreographic career. Since then he has choreographed for the Cincinnati Ballet, The Saint Louis Opera and the Cincinnati Opera. He has choreographed and directed for numerous high schools and community theater groups as well as Purdue University and Miami (Ohio) University. He is currently adjunct faculty at Northern Kentucky University and teaches for the International Cecchetti Council of America. Jay directed Jack and the Beanstalk for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati during the 2009-10 season, and is the Director of the Learning the Craft Program. Jay and his wife Jenny (former CBC dancer) are blessed to have three wonderful children Megan, Nathan and Amelia.

Kim Popa (Tap, Hip-Hop)

Kim Popa Kim Popa currently teaches the Dance Humanities credit in the Walton-Verona School System, as well as tap, jazz, and ballet at the Ziegler's Studio of Dance in Covington, and yoga for the Let It Shine after school Program. In 2008, Ms. Popa co-founded Pones Inc. Laboratory of Movement, a non-profit, movement based, performance art group dedicated to creating original work that blends dance, theatre, music, poetry and more. Ms. Popa has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern techniques for twenty-three years and has been teaching various forms for the past nine years. Ms. Popa graduated Summa Cum Laude and holds a BFA in Theatre & Dance from Northern Kentucky University. Notable performances include, dancing at the Sibiu Eastern European Theatre Festival in Sibiu, Romania in 2007, as well as multiple NKU Main Stage productions and modern dance concerts. Outside of Pones Inc. she has choreographed and collaborated with Northern Kentucky University, The Know Theatre of Cincinnati, New Edgecliff Theatre, and the Contemporary Dance Theatre. Along with teaching and performing, Ms. Popa volunteers for multiple dance conventions in the Tristate area, often focused on underprivileged children. Through movement and dance education, Ms. Popa hopes to encourage body awareness, self confidence, and creativity in students of all ages.

Abby Rowold (Drama)

Abby Rowold

​Abby Rowold is an Actor/Teacher who is new to the Cincinnati area.  Most recently you may have seen her on stage as the Evil Stepmother in TCTC’s production of Disney's Cinderella KIDS. Abby moved here from Bloomington, IN where she recently received her MFA in acting from Indiana University.  While in Indiana, she performed for several summers at the Indiana Festival Theatre and Brown County Playhouse.  She also got to play Miss Hannigan in Annie for Cardinal Stage in Bloomington as well as in a world-premiere play at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis.  Before moving to Indiana for graduate school, Abby lived in Chicago, IL, for ten years where she acted and taught children’s classes.  Abby is also an adjunct at Northern Kentucky University, where she teaches for the Theatre and Dance Department.

Joi M. Sears (Acting, Directing, Playwriting Workshop)

Joi M. Sears

Joi M. Sears is an artist, activist and Executive Director of Theatre for the Free People, an organization which is dedicated to using the arts as a vehicle for social change. She has earned a Masters of Arts degree from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and has traveled all across the globe discovering the innate ability of the arts to transform lives and mobilize communities. She has studied the Theatre of the Oppressed technique with Augusto Boal at the Centro de Teatro do Oprimido (Center for the Theatre of the Oppressed) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has had training in mask-making and Street Theatre in Puerto Rico. She has worked with young women in Ghana on a Girls Empowerment Initiative and most recently has been living/working abroad in Amsterdam, Netherlands at the Heesterveld Creative Community (Artist Collective).

As an artist, Joi was trained in classical ballet, modern and jazz performance with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey. Living and working in New York for the past ten years, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting and has performed with companies such as the Classical Theatre of Harlem and studied with prominent performers such as actor/director/playwright Anna Deavere Smith. She has worked in both the casting and writing departments of the television series, One Life To Live and as a producer has worked with organizations such as The Culture Project and The Brecht Forum. Joi is also a playwright, director and educator teaching arts and social change, playwriting and poetry/spoken word to children and young adults.

Liz Smith (Drama, Dance)

Liz Smith

​Liz is an performer, choreographer, and teacher living in Cincinnati.  Liz received her BFA in Acting with a concentration in Dance at Northern Kentucky University, where she was a Corbett Scholar,  and received her Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of  Houston School of Theatre, where she studied with Stuart Ostrow, Dr. Sidney Berger and Sir Peter Hall. Liz has performed locally with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Commonwealth Theatre, Jersey Productions, and The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. Regionally with Theatre IV ArtReach,  Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, and Theatre Under the Stars in Houston. Some favorite roles include: Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Kate in Taming of the Shrew, Amy in Company, and the Angel in Angels in America. Liz has also worked as a choreographer, teacher and guest artist for CCM Preparatory Division, School for Creative and Performing Arts and Northern Kentucky Symphony. Liz is a proud member of Actor's Equity.

Chris Stewart (Drama)

Chris Stewart Chris Stewart, actor-director-playwright-teaching-artist for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, has taught drama/acting classes for Learning the Craft since the program began. Recently, he directed Aesop’s Fables and The Ugly Duckling for the ArtReach tour. Playwrighting credits include Holiday Follies 2 & 2011, Jack & the Beanstalk, Huck Finn, The Fantastic Toy Shoppe and The Sword in the Stone. Mr. Stewart played the title roles in The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s MainStage productions of Disney’s Peter Pan JR. and Tom Sawyer, and was featured in all of the MainStage shows during the 2011-12 season. He teaches for the STAR Program and WorkShops, and has directed drama programs for young performers all over the Cincinnati area, including the Covedale Young People’s Theatre Prep. Mr. Stewart was in the Edinburgh Fringe Festivals 2006-07 as an actor and press/marketing officer, and has performed in local shows at the Showboat, Commonwealth Theatre Company, and the Carnegie. His classes specialize in improvisation, classical and contemporary material, characterizations, and stagecraft. A graduate of Hillsdale College (B.A., Theatre; B.A., English) and alum of the Huron Playhouse, Mr. Stewart now shifts his focus to education.

Chelsey Sweatman (Vocal Music)

Chelsey Sweatman

​Chelsey Kurtz Sweatman , originally from Connellsville, PA, has lived, performed, and educated in Cincinnati since 2005. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, studying with a voice concentration under Dr. Barbara Paver. In addition, she holds an Orff-Schulwerk Level I Certification from the University of Kentucky.While at CCM, Chelsey received the Spirit of Community Award for outstanding leadership, and was named the College’s Presser Scholar for outstanding academic and musical achievement in music education.  She also served as an intern for the Cincinnati Children’s Choir for three years of her undergraduate studies. Since 2009, Chelsey has been the music teacher at Delshire Elementary of the Oak Hills Local School District where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2011. Most recently, Chelsey was selected to represent Oak Hills as their 2013 Hamilton County Teacher of Excellence Award winner for her dedication and excellence in education. In addition to teaching full-time, Chelsey is the Associate Director for the Piccolo Coro, Blue Ash Satellite, and West Satellite Choirs for the Cincinnati Children’s Choir, the Children’s Choir Director at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, OH, serves on the College of Mount St. Joseph Music Academy staff as a Vocal Instructor and Elementary Specialist, and performs regularly throughout the area as a professional vocalist. She is currently a member of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, the Greater Cincinnati Orff-Schulwerk Chapter, National Association for Music Education, and the Ohio Music Educators Association.

Abby Wagner (Dance, Drama)

Abby Wagner

​Abby Wagner is a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University. On a full scholarship, she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Performance with an emphasis in Dance. Upon graduation she received the "Most Outstanding Senior" award from the Theatre and Dance Department. She has studied all areas of dance, voice, and acting. Her favorite credit from NKU; You Can't Take it with You (Essie, League of Cincinnati Theatre's nominee for Best Supporting Actress). Her favorite professional credits include Nunsense (Sister Mary Leo) with Commonwealth Theatre Co., Chicago (Hunyak) with Carnegie Performing Arts, Lincoln: A Pioneer Tale (Sarah Elizabeth) with Lincoln Amphitheater. She was the solo dancer in the "Stand Back" music video for Fleetwood Mac's 2013 Summer World Tour. Abby is also proud alumni of Governor's School for the Arts 2008 (dance).