Ten teachers hired for arts school

February 01, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Ten teachers -- five in the arts, five in academics -- have been hired for the new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

On Friday, Washington County Public Schools announced the hirings, the latest in preparations to open the school in August on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

About 250 students have applied for the school, the second of its type in Maryland. Auditions are scheduled for Saturday.

Clyde Harrell, the school system's director of secondary education, said the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts probably will open with about 150 to 200 students in grades nine through 12.

Enrollment is expected to grow to about 300 the second year.

In addition to the 10 lead teachers hired last week, the school system will add other teachers and part-time specialists, Principal Michael T. Thorsen said.


Three of the five new arts staff members are coming from jobs outside the state -- Louisiana, Montana and Ohio -- but all five have ties to Maryland, according to the school system.

One recognizable name is Ruth Ridenour, who has taught music and theater for 31 years at Williamsport High School and is president of the Potomac Playmakers theater company.

Ridenour called the new opportunity a dream job and said she has supported Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan's push for an arts school the last several years.

It's exciting to help build a new program, but it's also bittersweet to leave Williamsport after more than three decades, Ridenour said.

All five new academic faculty members will move to the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts from jobs within the school system.

Harrell said there were more than 200 applications for the arts and academic positions.

The school's arts curriculum will include music, dance, theater and visual arts.

"We use the arts as the core, and then go from there," Thorsen said.

Academic classes will be at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown campus on West Washington Street, Harrell said.

The Washington County Board of Education approved the hirings at a meeting last month as part of a list of districtwide personnel actions.

When the list came up for discussion, Wayne D. Ridenour, the board president, excused himself and left the room, briefly passing the duty of presiding over the meeting to Vice President Ruth Anne Callaham, according to school system spokesman Richard Wright.

Ruth Ridenour is Wayne Ridenour's sister.

Who they are: new arts school teachers

According to Washington County Public Schools, the 10 teachers recently hired to work at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown are:


  • Drama and musical theater: Ruth Ridenour, who taught music and theater at Williamsport High School for 31 years and directed the SophistiCats show choir

  • Dance: Andrea Becker, the dance teacher at South Hagerstown High School for the last four years. Becker also teaches at Ballet and All That Jazz in Hagerstown.

  • Vocal music: Edryn Coleman, who has been director of choral activities and assistant professor of music at Grambling University in Louisiana. Coleman has taught in Prince George's County, Md., and twice was a guest conductor for Washington County's All-County Chorus.

  • Music: William Hollin, who has been teaching instrumental music and conducting a community youth orchestra in Montana. He has worked in Montgomery County, Md., as well as Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma.

  • Visual arts: Teresa Roberts, who has been a faculty member at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. She taught for 16 years in Garrett County, Md.


  • English: Paula Stokes, who has been teaching English 9 at North Hagerstown High School, where she has been drama coach for nonmusical productions and directed 19 school plays. She has a special interest in Shakespeare.

  • Math: Erin McCarthy, who has been teaching at South Hagerstown High School. She is a musician and has an interest in visual arts.

  • Social studies: Robert Herr, who taught at Williamsport High School for five years. He was a professional sculptor and painter.

  • Science: Elizabeth Aziz, who has been teaching at Smithsburg High School and was an assistant principal at a school in Frederick, Md. She belongs to a Middle Eastern dance troupe.

  • Spanish: Lisa Wurtz, who has been teaching Spanish and Italian at Northern Middle School, and has taught high school-level Spanish in Washington County and New York.

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