Announcing the New Director of the Community Theater Academy: Katie Preisig Schiering ’05

We are thrilled to share that the new Director of the Walnut Hill School for the Arts Community Theater Academy is Katie Schiering, a 2005 graduate of our Theater Department! It’s always exciting when alumni return to the Hill to join our faculty or staff, and we are thrilled to have Katie, with her wealth of experience and her passion for our community, at the helm of CTA. Read on below for an interview with Katie, and check out the Community Theater Academy website for Fall 2023 classes and registration.

What brought you to Walnut Hill originally, and what was your experience like as a theater student here?

I first heard about Walnut Hill when my dear friend left our children's theater community in New Hampshire to attend as a boarding student. After visiting him on campus multiple times and seeing the incredible student productions he was in, I followed suit the following year. Receiving advanced training in musical theater was the initial draw, but the unexpected benefit was the feeling of finally fitting into a school environment that understood my individual needs for support. Having numerous adults looking out for me and mentoring me was a highlight of my experience. Being a theater major gave me the opportunity to explore parts of myself and the world that I would not have been exposed to until later in life. We also had the freedom to erupt into spontaneous songs in the dining hall, a privilege not often seen in public school!

Tell us about the years since you graduated from Walnut Hill. What has your career path been like?

My education and career path has truly gone full circle. When I left Walnut Hill, I moved to New York City to pursue a liberal arts education. From there, I spent time working for Disney World and inevitably returned to the Boston theater community as a performer and teaching artist. I landed a job with a company focused on teaching music and theater to very young children. I realized how much fun it was to combine my own performance energy with education, and things continued to grow from there. Our little company was acquired by LINX in Wellesley, and for nearly 10 years I was responsible for developing and managing a fast-growing children’s theater company. I left LINX to pursue my master’s in theater education at Emerson College while simultaneously raising my young children. At Emerson, I developed a deep understanding of the positive impact that theater can have in our communities. Teaching and directing children’s theater and providing educational leadership are passions of mine that I’m lucky to call my career.

What are your goals for your new position with the Community Theater Academy? How would you like to see the program grow or progress?

Why wait until high school to receive a Walnut Hill–quality theater experience? I would love for the Community Theater Academy to be well-known throughout the surrounding towns as the place to go for premier theater education. I expect to focus especially on growing our early education programs so that those young performers can continue to learn under the Walnut Hill umbrella for a majority of their childhoods. Many of the young artists who participate will inevitably turn into Walnuts and remain a part of this beautiful community for life!

What excites you most about returning to the Walnut Hill campus and community?

Walnut Hill has never stopped feeling like home to me. I've often found myself coming back for shows or visits with my former teachers. There's an air of relatability and kindness that is felt on campus whether you're a student, parent, or faculty member. As we grow the Community Theater Academy, hundreds of young kids from our neighboring communities are going to have the chance to feel the same magic as they spend time with us at Walnut Hill.

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