Youth StARTS

[ 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.
Kaoru photo 1

Kaoru Wada / Music

Kaoru holds a Bachelor of Music from Musashino Academia Musicae (Tokyo, Japan), a Graduate Diploma in performance from the St. Louis Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music from Webster University. As a violin player, she has performed with the following orchestras: Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Spoleto Festival Orchestra (USA and Italy), National Orchestral Institute, National Repertory Orchestra, American Kantorei Orchestra, Salem-St. Louis Chamber Orchestra, and Fox Theater Orchestra. She also has performed as a substitute player for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. She has taught at the following schools: Saint Louis Symphony Community Music School, St. Charles Community College, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Community Music School of Webster University, St. Louis Ballet School, and St. Louis University High School. Locally, she coached and conducted for the Klamath Symphony Summer String Camp.

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.


TBD / Dance


TBA / Drama


TBA / Dance

Coming soon!


TBA / Drama

Coming soon!