218 N 7th St, Klamath Falls, OR 97601  541.884.5483

[ Youth StARTS ]

The artist in residence program is a collaborative effort involving the Ross Ragland Theater, traveling artists, teachers and both school districts in the Basin. The goal of The Youth STARTS Program is to integrate performing arts into the traditional classroom setting. Application of artistic concepts engages students more physically and personally in the learning environment, enriching and improving overall academic performance. Artists instruct in three eight week blocks throughout the schoolyear, grades K-5. Rotating artists and subjects through the schools means that each elementary-aged student in Klamath County Schools will receive at least one session each of drama, movement and music each school year. This collaboration program, which started as a pilot with just four rural schools has proved to be a cost effective, public-private partnership; so much so that it has become a state-wide model!

Benefits of Arts Integration

Children thrive on the study of the arts. The arts open doors to creativity. They nourish critical thinking and innovation. Integrating the arts with other disciplines (core content areas) through instruction and assessment supports the development of these skills and processes.  Arts integration uses teaching practices that have been shown in brain-based research to improve comprehension and long-term retention.  Youth StARTS and Arts integration:

  • Instill greater self-confidence and life-long learning skills
  • Increase socialization among peers
  • Improve overall academic achievement
  • Positively correlate to attendance
  • Increase classroom engagement
  • Give children a more thorough understanding of their bodies and emotions
  • Help students to imbed and retain information they learn in all subjects, including those not traditionally associated with the Arts such as math and science.
  • Allow kids to integrate new information into their own cultural, social, emotional and intellectual needs, increasing their understanding and ownership of new subjects and skills


Amber Burger / Drama

Amber has 15+ years of theater experience both on stage and off. She has worked as a technician and production team member, as well as a performer, giving her a well-rounded knowledge of the theater.  Amber has worked with the Ross Ragland Youth Theater Day Camp for nine summers – including directing Willy Wonka in 2016.  She also served as the KU drama coach in 2016-17 – directing several plays there.  She loves sharing her knowledge and passion with children.

Tori Lancaster / Drama & Movement

Tori Lancaster has been in the Education Program at the Ross Ragland Theater for over five years. She studied theater and dance for over ten years locally before moving to Southern Oregon University where she emphasized in technical theater, stage management, Shakespeare studies and musical theater. She thoroughly enjoys teach these concepts to young students. She has recently choreographed the Ross Ragland’s Youth Theater Camp’s 2018 production of James and the Giant Peach, Jr., and assistant directed their 2017 production of Mulan, Jr. In addition to directing the Ross Ragland’s Little Sprouts Theater Camp’s 2017 production of Gran’s Guide to Ogres and the 2017 production of Stories under the Big Top.      


Sarah Pearlstein / Music

I grew up in Klamath Falls. I have always loved music. I took piano lessons at Sacred Heart Academy. I played trumpet in the school band for four years. During middle school, I taught myself how to play acoustic guitar, using guitar chord books. I accompanied my high school choir on piano. I volunteered to teach music in my children’s elementary classes when music was taken out of the Klamath County schools in the 1990’s. When I taught in public and private schools, I always incorporated music.  I have taught piano and guitar lessons to a few students, including my granddaughter. My husband and I have been on worship teams in three local churches. I have worked for Ross Ragland Youth StARTS for the past four years. I love this program, and enjoy passing my appreciation of music on to the next generation.

Jeff Press / Drama

Jeff is a director & performer who has worked internationally. Before moving to Klamath he received his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing at East 15 Acting School in London. Previously, Jeff received his Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Eastern Oregon University. He also spent time studying and working in Moscow, Bali, and Sydney. Jeff started working for the Ragland’s Education Department at the beginning of 2016 and has taught in classrooms, after school classes, and directed the last two Youth Theater Day Camp shows. He has also performed in and directed various other children’s shows and community productions, including directing the RRT’s 2017 production of Mary Poppins.


Tara Cramer / Drama

Tara holds a BA in painting and printmaking from Western Oregon University and is the process of earning her Masters in Education from Southern Oregon University.  When she is not in the classroom as a Youth StARTS teaching artist she can be found working as a substitute teacher for the Klamath County School District. When she can carve out time in her crazy schedule, Tara particpates both onstage and off in productions both here at the Ross Ragland and over at the Linkville Playhouse.


Jean Doten / Music

Jean Doten is the most recent artist to join our Youth StARTS team. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Cincinnati Conservatory, a Master of Arts in Musicology from Harvard University, and a Master of Teaching from University of San Francisco. At the elementary school level Jean models her teaching on the methods created by the German composer Carl Orff, which emphasize age-appropriate activities that include singing, improvisation, and composition with simple musical instruments and body percussion along with some elements of drama and movement.


Carla Brannon / Dance

Carla is our Youth StARTS Substitute for all the Artists. She has owned and operated her dance studio in the Klamath Basin for the last 33 years. She has a wide variety of dance background in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Gospel, Hip Hop. She has taught student of all ages and choreographed her own shows every year for the studio, along with several community productions through the years at the Ross Ragland.


TBA / Dance

Coming soon!



Coming soon!

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