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 and Klamath City 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 13 plus years of theater experience both on stage and off. She has worked as a technician and production team member, as well as a performer, has given 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 has work in theater and dance for many years as a performer and choreographer. She has worked at the Ross Ragland Youth Theater Camp for multiple years as Assistant Choreographer and a children’s Counselor. She studied theater and dance for over ten years locally before moving on to Southern Oregon University where she emphasized in dance, studying both theory and movement, as well as how to apply concepts when teaching young students.


Sarah Pearlstein / Music

Sarah is an Oregon licensed teacher who has substituted in the county for several years.  Prior to becoming a Youth StARTS teaching artist, she taught music in and out of the classroom both on a volunteer basis and as a job at various school.  Sarah plays the piano and guitar.

Jeff Press / Drama

Jeff is a director/ actor who has worked globally. Before coming 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 and has also studied in Moscow, Bali, and Sydney. Jeff has also worked at the Ragland Youth Theater Day Camp.  He directed both the 2017 Camp production of Mulan, Jr. and the 2017 Summer Community Production of Mary Poppins here at the RRT.


Erin Barker / Music

Erin is a local singer/songwriter who can often be seen performing at Leap of Taste and other venues around town. She is excited to share her love and knowledge of music with children of the Basin. In addition to being a music teacher and talented performer, Erin brews, bottles and sells her own kombucha.


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.


Bonnie Hay / Music

A retired music and drama teacher, Mrs. Hay is no stranger to the arts or classrooms. In addition to sharing her passion and knowledge with children, Bonnie plays a plethora of instruments and can often be found performing for community productions throughout the Basin and with the Klamath Chorale.


TBA / Dance

Coming soon!



Coming soon!

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