Dr. Newman graduated from Louisville Male High School and taught in Tennessee before starting his career with JCPS as a teacher at Western High School. He taught English for a year before becoming the assistant principal there in 2007. He then served as the principal for seven years before transitioning to the State of Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet in February 2020.
Kevin Fowler has been a high school counselor since 2006 and has been with The Youth Performing Arts School since 2017. He is a graduate of JCPS, the University of Kentucky, and Indiana University. Mr. Fowler performed in three high school musicals and performed in multiple University of Kentucky vocal and wind ensembles. Mr. Fowler and his wife have two sons (Nathaniel--a YPAS Piano graduate who is currently and attorney with Frost, Brown & Todd, and Benjamin--a YPAS student). He owns a champion West Highland White Terrier: Ch. McAmus' Surprised by Charlie's Joy, 2CA.
Becky Richards joined the staff of YPAS as our school secretary in October of 2021. She is a graduate of Georgetown College with a BA in Communications. She has a love of the arts and non-profit organizations and has worked with the Kentucky Center for the Arts, The Cabbage Patch Settlement House, and most recently The Waldorf School of Louisville, where she was the Administrative Director for 7 years. She and her husband Will and their three teenagers, one now a YPAS alum, enjoy music, movies, cooking, gardening, travel and all things out-doors including summer camping trips in our national parks. She is so happy to be part of the YPAS team bringing such a rich experience to the young artists we serve.
Amie Dennison became our school bookkeeper in 2013 after many years in banking. As a 2001 graduate of the University of Kentucky, she has Bachelor of Business Administration focusing on Marketing and Management. In addition to her bookkeeping duties, Mrs. Dennison is also our box office manager and coordinator of KY College and Career Day, which hosts over 100 colleges and universities for our students each year. Working for YPAS was such an appealing position because for many years she could be found on the stage playing the flute, singing in choirs, and being involved in musicals such as Oliver and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In her spare time she can be found on the softball field coaching her daughter’s team, being a taxi service for her busy twin boys, cheering on the CATS, or shopping at Target.
Gail Douglas began working for JCPS in July 2004 as a substitute processing applications for Nutritional Services. She then moved on to work for Western High School as a clerk for the Assistant Principal's Office. Gail joined the YPAS staff in August 2009 as a school clerk for the counselor's office. Prior to working for JCPS, Gail worked as a Administrative Assistant for a injection molding company, as well as helping her husband run a dump trucking business.
Michele Bynum is the admissions coordinator for Manual/YPAS. Prior to this, she was the main office clerk at DuPont Manual for 6 years. She was also bookkeeper at Wilder Elementary before coming to Manual and did payroll, ordering, field trips, PD’s, ESS, subs, budgets and checking account for the school, for a total of eleven years with JCPS. She has a BA (Business Administration) degree from EKU and enjoys working with people, as well as, numbers, spreadsheets etc. She loves Manual/YPAS and is excited to share her passion with others. Manual is like another family to her.
Joe Shrewsbury joined the YPAS staff in 2002. Prior to that, he spent seven years as head of maintenance at the Archdiocese of Louisville. In his spare time, Joe enjoys making hand-crafted items.
Janice Strothoff began working for JCPS in 1999. She worked at DuPont Manual High School for nine years before joining the staff at YPAS in 2008. Prior to working for JCPS Janice worked part time at McDonald's for twenty three years as well as working a second job at Gordon Potato Chip Company packing chips and cleaning offices for sixteen years. Janice raised five children and enjoys spending time with her family in her spare time.
Curtis Essig joined the faculty of the Youth Performing Arts School in the fall of 1993 and is currently in his 31st year of teaching and his 27th year at YPAS. Prior to his current position, he was Director of Bands at Waggener High School in Jefferson County, KY from 1989-1993. He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree (1989) and his Master of Secondary Education degree (1999) from the University of Louisville.
Mr. Essig’s teaching responsibilities include Intermediate Brass, Jazz Improvisation, Chamber Ensemble, Symphony Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble. Additionally, being responsible for the artistic growth of all brass students, he rehearses brass ensembles on a regular basis and supervises the development of etude and solo repertoire for all brass players in the YPAS Instrumental Music Program.
Mr. Essig was selected as Kentucky High School Music Teacher of the Year for District 12 in 1999. He served as District 12 Band Chair from 1997-1999 and again in 2002. He also served as the Kentucky All-State Jazz Coordinator for KMEA from 1998-2002 and again from 2009 to 2011. Mr. Essig has held various offices in the Kentucky Unit of the International Association for Jazz Education including: Secretary 1996-1998, Vice-President 1998-2000, President Elect 2000-2003,and President 2003-2005. Mr. Essig is also a contributing author to volumes 1 and 2 of the Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz books compiled by Dr. Richard Miles and Ronald Carter. His professional affiliations include the Kentucky Music Educators Association, the National Association for Music Education, Phi Beta Mu, Phi Kappa Phi, the International Trumpet Guild, and the Jazz Educators Network.
Mr. Essig performed professionally as trumpeter and keyboardist in the band Midnight Hour from 1984-2004. He is currently a member of the Chamber Winds Louisville under the direction of Dr. Fred Speck and has performed locally, at the KMEA State Music Conference, and at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic with the ensemble.
Jason Gregory is in is 19th year of teaching and 12th year at duPont Manual HS and the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville, KY. Mr.Gregory currently serves as the Assistant Director of Bands and the Director of Percussion Studies for the Youth Performing Arts School. He also serves as the Director of Athletic Bands for duPont Manual High School which includes a competitive marching band, basketball pep band and a newly formed winter color guard training program. His teaching responsibilities at YPAS include or have included Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Ensemble, Intermediate Woodwinds, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Conductor of the Pit Orchestra and Music Theory I. Mr. Gregory oversees all aspects of the woodwind and percussion curriculum at YPAS. In addition, he has taught AP Music Theory and Jazz Ensemble at previous schools. Since taking over the YPAS Percussion Ensemble full time in 2013, the ensemble was selected to perform at the KMEA state music conference (2014) with guest artist Michael Burritt of the Eastman School of Music, won the large ensemble division of the Black Swamp HS Percussion Ensemble competition (2015), was a featured ensemble at the Music for All/Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival (2016) and was selected to perform at the International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic (2017). In addition the YPAS percussion program averages 4-6 percussionists in KY All-State Ensembles each year.
Mr. Gregory also serves as freelance percussionist, arranger and adjudicator throughout the state of Kentucky and Indiana. Over the years, he has performed with the Louisville Orchestra, the Owensboro Symphony and the Evansville Symphony. While with the Louisville Orchestra, he performed with numerous artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Martina McBride, Frank Sinatra Jr, the Spinners and David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat & Tears. He is currently a member of the Chamber Winds of Louisville Concert Band, a community ensemble conducted by Dr. Frederick Speck, the Director of Bands at the University of Louisville.The ensemble recently performed at the 2013 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and at the KMEA Music Conference in 2012. Prior to becoming a band director, Mr. Gregory served as a clinician for Yamaha “Sounds of Summer” Camps, taught percussion for numerous high school percussion programs and served as a Percussion Caption Head for a Senior Drum & Bugle Corps. Currently, he serves as a music, visual and percussion adjudicator for various KMEA sanctioned marching band festivals, concert band festival and Solo and Ensemble adjudicator throughout the state of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. As a percussion arranger, he has written for two Senior Drum & Bugle Corps, the University of Louisville and for numerous high school programs in the surrounding area including his own band program.
Mr. Gregory is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Music (BME 2001) where his principal percussion teachers were Chad Stoltenberg, James Rago, Greg Byrne and Michael Ferraracio. He earned his Master Degree in Education from Indiana Wesleyan University (MED 2008). His professional affiliations include the Kentucky Music Educators Association, the Percussive Arts Society, the Jefferson County Teachers Association and NAfME, the national association for music education.
Jason Gregory currently resides in Louisville, KY with his wife Nikki, 20 year old son Cole and 13 year old daughter Hope.
*Lora Ruttan began her dance training with the Laurel Ballet in Greensburg, PA, and went on to dance professionally with the Charleston Ballet Company in Charleston, WV. Ms. Ruttan graduated magna cum laude from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (R-MWC) with a BA in dance. She student taught at R-MWC while receiving her K-12 dance education licensure. Ms. Ruttan received an MA in dance from American University where she also served as an adjunct faculty member and artist in residence. Ms. Ruttan has studied at the Point Park Conservatory, the North Carolina School of the Arts and the Laban Dance Centre in London, England. She is happy to be teaching at YPAS.
Gyuli Kambarova, accompanist, is a classically trained pianist and composer who graduated from the prestigious Rostov State Rachmaninov Conservatory where she received a double Masters of Music, with honors, in Piano Performance and Music Composition.Her career began in Southern Russia where she composed, performed and taught. In 2010, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky. Her work in the United States includes performances at the University of Louisville School of Music, Youth Performing Arts School, Louisville Academy of Music, and other venues in Kentuckiana as a pianist and composer in collaboration with many of the gifted and talented musicians and dancers of the area.
She has released three CDs: “Dreams” (2014), “My Way” (2016), and “Memories” (2018). These recordings include several different styles such as classical, romantic, jazz, contemporary, and cinematic. Mrs. Kambarova lives in Louisville and works at the University of Louisville School of Music, the Louisville Academy of Music, Youth Performing Arts School, and gives private piano and composition lessons at her own studio.
*Amy Berry is in her 18th year of designing for YPAS. After graduating from WKU with a BFA in Theatre, Amy worked as a Wardrobe Supervisor in several theaters from Buffalo to Daytona Beach. After returning to Louisville, she received a MAT in Art from Spalding University and her Administration Certification from IUS. As an YPAS alumnus (D&P), Amy has been a part of the YPAS family for many years and continues to be astounded at the abilities of our students and staff. Some of her favorite designs have included Showboat, Seussical the Musical, Shrek, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mary Stuart.
Jen Groseth has been the lighting and sound designer at YPAS for the last six years and is privileged/honored to be working with such a talented group of students and faculty. Jen received her BA in Theater from the University of Wisconsin, Eau-Claire and her MFAs in Lighting and Sound Design from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne. In her spare time Jen enjoys spending time with her furry family and working on odd projects.
Bob Upton, scenic designer, is a graduate of Jacksonville State University with a BA in theatre and recently earned his MA degree in theatre design and Production from Southern Oregon University. He taught theatre production and design in college and public educational theatre for a number of years before coming to YPAS. He has worked in theatre production in regional theatres throughout Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, and Florida with Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre (Prestonsburg, Kentucky); Lone Star Historical Drama (Galveston, Texas); Seaside Music Theatre (Daytona Beach, Florida); Alabama Shakespeare Festival (Montgomery); Alabama Birmingham Children’s Theatre (Birmingham, Alabama); Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia); and the Georgia Shakespeare Festival (Atlanta, Georgia.)
Michael Kagan, a passionate educator, performer, and advocate of the classical guitar, enjoys a vibrant career as the Director of Guitar Studies at the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS) in Louisville, Kentucky, serves as the Tour Director and International Ensemble Competition Artistic Director for the Guitar Foundation of America, and is President of the Louisville Guitar Society – a 501c3 that promotes live music, educational opportunities, and musical community through the guitar. In 2016, Michael successfully passed an eight course curriculum for the first magnet program for the guitar in the state of Kentucky. He is currently building local audiences and initiating after school guitar programs to engage and enrich the Louisville community. As a performer, Michael’s most recent engagements have included a program of Schubert’s music for guitar and voice and Tedesco’s Romancero Gitano.
Julie Evans has a BFA in Performing Arts/Dance from Western KY University and an MFA in Acting from the University of Louisville. From 2013-2018, she was the dance teacher for Noe Middle School's Performing Arts Magnet, and Director/Choreographer of Noe's Fall Musicals. She has been a resident dance teacher/choreographer for Stage One Family Theatre Summer Performance Camps (2013-2017.) Performance credits include: Original cast "Orange Girl" (and cast recording) of Shout! the Mod Musical, Lola U/S (US Tour of Damn Yankees), Rizzo/Sandy (European Tour of Grease), Annie (Annie Get Your Gun), Victor/Victoria (Victor, Victoria!), Sonia (They're Playin' Our Song), Mother (Ragtime), Julie Jordan (Carousel), Nellie (South Pacific), Adelaide (Guys & Dolls), Irene (Crazy For You), Lily/Kate (Kiss Me, Kate), Judy Turner (A Chorus Line), Tzeitel (Fiddler on the Roof), Luisa (The Fantasticks), Kate (Taming of the Shrew), Iago (Othello - Women's Shakespeare Co., Brooklyn, NY), Maria (What You Will - Moonworks, Productions), and and many more. Other works include: Films: YERT- Your Environmental Road Trip (documentary), Second Serve and Voiceovers: Current 360.
Tim Murner has been on the faculty at the Youth Performing Arts School for the past 31 years. He has been a professional musician for the past 38 years in the Louisville area and across the country. He plays piano at the Galt House in Louisville, and he has also written numerous musicals for YPAS and the community. He has been music director for Actor’s Theatre, music director and producer for Kentucky Kingdom/Hurricane Bay Theme Park and the Legend of Daniel Boone, and he has composed several mini musicals for the Kentucky State Fair including Nine Young Men from Kentucky, Brave Hunters of Kentucky and Forever Free. Tim has also composed music for Voices of Hope which is a branch of the American Cancer Society, and he is the composer for David, The Musical, which premiered in Boston in 2001. Tim is also the music director for St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Bradford, Indiana.
Huadong Lu grew up in Guangzhou, China. Upon graduation from the Guangzhou Conservatory of Music, he became a violinist of the Guangzhou Symphony and performed under many internationally acclaimed conductors. While attending Kent State University under full scholarship, he received a Masters of Music in violin performance and Masters of Arts in Teaching. He has performed with numerous orchestras around the world such as the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, and the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra. He started his teaching career in the US in the fall of 1993. Since then he has taught in public schools and youth symphonies in NE, NY, NC, SC, and colleges (Union College in Lincoln, NE; University of North Carolina at Pembroke). His public school orchestras consistently received top ratings at state performance assessments and were selected often to perform at state music conventions. He led his school orchestras and youth symphonies to perform in England and Scotland, Prague, in Europe; Soul, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. During each summer, he has been invited to guest conduct orchestra summer camps and to give master classes in Singapore, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and all over China.
Mr. Lu brings to the classroom 20+ years of professional experience and a passion for teaching young musicians
*Matilda Ertz is a piano instructor at the Youth Performing Arts School and lecturer in music history at the University of Louisville School of Music where she also teaches piano and harpsichord. She has a PhD in Musicology from the University of Oregon with a supporting area in piano performance, as well as Master of Music Degrees in both Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She attended SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music for her undergraduate studies. Dr. Ertz has taught and performed on piano for over twenty years, and on harpsichord since 2004. As a harpsichordist, she has collaborated with William Carragan on recording and performing the keyboard works of Johann Mattheson, including a fringe concert at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2005. More recently, Dr. Ertz has performed in Louisville’s “Here and Now” concert series, featuring new music for the harpsichord by local composers at 21C Museum, and UofL's "Music eX" concert series, along with concerts of music new and old at variety of regional venues. She particularly enjoys playing continuo in Baroque ensemble music.
As a musicologist also trained in dance, Dr. Ertz studies music and dance, particularly ballet music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has published research on George Balanchine, Schneitzhoeffer’s score to Filippo Taglioni’s La Sylphide, Nijinska’s and Stravinsky’s Les Noces, and Salvatore Viganò’s La Vestale. Recent research includes "Risorgimento Themes in Italian Ballets of the Nineteenth Century," and the 2016 article "Scoring the ballo fantastico: supernatural characters and their music in Italy’s ballets during the Risorgimento." Her dissertation, “Nineteenth-century Italian Ballet Music before National Unification: Sources, Style and Context,” covers largely uncharted territory in music and dance scholarship and draws on manuscripts from the Harvard Theatre Collection and the New York Public Library Research Collections. Ertz is the recipient of the 2011-2012 “John M. Ward Fellowship for Dance and Music for the Theatre” from the Houghton Library Visiting Fellowship Program at Harvard. Ertz is an active member of the American Musicological Society and its Music and Dance Study Group.
*Katie Blackerby-Weible is in her 11th year on the theatre faculty at the Youth Performing Arts School. Previously she was the Director of Education at Actors Theatre of Louisville. As an instructor, she has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community College. She has served on the musical theatre faculty with the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, as a voice and movement/musical theatre instructor at Walden Theatre, and as the drama specialist for the Kentucky Institute for Arts in Education. As an actor, she has performed extensively across the country. Favorite Off-Broadway/regional credits include:
The Great Gilly Hopkins (New Victory Theater), Tom Sawyer (Promenade) HomeFires (Jack Hiefner world premiere at Arkansas Repertory Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (New York Renaissance Festival), The Imaginary Invalid (Idaho Repertory Theater), and Hello Dolly! (Galveston Island Musicals). She has appeared at Actors Theatre of Louisville and STAGE ONE in several productions over the past twenty years. Favorite directing credits include Bang Bang You’re Dead, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, 13 the Musical, Little Women, and Shrek the Musical at YPAS; A Year with Frog and Toad for Music Theatre of Louisville, and Bunnicula for Stage One. Katie received her BFA in Performing Arts at Western Kentucky University and her MFA in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin.
Brian Hinds is an eighth year teacher at YPAS where he teaches freshmen theater majors and playwriting. Originally from Maine, Brian spent ten years with The Children’s Theatre of Maine where he served as an actor, instructor, and director. Since moving to Louisville Brian worked as an outreach artist with Kentucky Shakespeare and Walden Theatre. As an actor Brian has performed with Kentucky Shakespeare (MacDuff in Macbeth, Caesar in Julius Caesar, Richard in Richard III, Sir Toby in Twelfth Night), Stage One Family Theatre (The Odyssey, Tuck Everlasting, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever), The Bard’s Town (Ten-Tucky Festival, Rx, Seminar), and Savage Rose Classical Theatre (Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Prospero in The Tempest) . Recent directing credits include The Comedy of Errors, The Crucible, and Tom Jones at YPAS, and Love’s Labour’s Lost at Kentucky Shakespeare. Brian is also a member of Louisville Improvisors.
Jane B. Jones is excited to start her first year on the theatre faculty at YPAS. Previously Jones was the Director of Education at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she worked for nine years. From Culpeper, Virginia, Jones has been a theatre educator in Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Scotland. Jones worked for the American High School Theatre Festival at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for ten years. At Actors, Jones has taught playwriting to middle and high school students, acted as Literary Manager of the New Voices Young Playwrights Contest, and headed the theatre’s lobby enrichment initiative. Jones has developed work with the Professional Training Company, directed in the New Voices Young Playwrights Festival, and directed A. Ray Pamatmat's Electric Harvest as part of the 2018 PTC Season. In 2012, Jones’s short play, Dress Up, was produced in the Tens at Actors and she was commissioned to write TMI: a sex-ed puppet show for Squallis Puppeteers. Jones is a former board member and contract artist for Squallis Puppeteers where she has developed several original puppet shows. Jones earned an MFA in Playwriting at Spalding University; she graduated cum laude from Smith College with a BA in Theatre.
*Jacob Cook serves as the Director of Vocal Music Studies at the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville, KY where he conducts four choral ensembles, teaches vocal development, and teaches electives in pedagogy and opera. Additionally, he coordinates mentor students for the YPAS/Western Middle School for the Arts Vocal Academy which partners high school singers from YPAS with 6th and 7th grade students at Western to enrich the learning and performance of all involved. Mr. Cook has conducted the YPAS Choirs in performance at the American Choral Director’s Association Southern Division Conference, the Kentucky Music Educators Association Conference, the Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses National Conference, and in international performance venues in Italy and Costa Rica. Prior to working with students at YPAS, Mr. Cook taught music and choir to students in grades K-12 in the greater Cincinnati area including positions with the Diocese of Covington, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and Mason City Schools. Mr. Cook also served as music director in church programs and as a conductor with the Fort Thomas Youth Choir on its tour of Spain and in the World Choir Games in Cincinnati. Mr. Cook studied at East Tennessee State University with Dr. Thomas Jenrette and Dr. Oliver Lo and earned a Bachelor’s of Music. While earning a Master’s of Music at the University of Kentucky, Mr. Cook studied voice with Gail Robinson, performed several opera roles, and sang with the UK Choirs under Dr. Jefferson Johnson.
YPAS Admissions Office 502-313-5960
YPAS Main Office 502-485-8355
Manual Main Office 502-485-8241
1517 South 2nd Street
Louisville, KY 40208