Faculty and Staff

Robert BattleRobert Battle

Resident Life Director, Resident Assistant and Faculty

Robert Battle is glad to be returning for his eighth season with the MFAA. Originally from St. Louis, Battle attended Central Visual & Performing Arts High School and graduated from Kirkwood Senior High. He received his undergrad from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music & Dance where he sang in a number of choral ensembles including the Heritage Chorale. Battle is the Artistic Director of the Columbia Public Schools 5th Grade Honors Choir and member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the Barbershop Harmony Society. He is also a certified to teach in New York State and is a fitness trainer for Les Mills BodyJam dance classes. An active voice teacher and advocate for equal arts opportunities in urban areas, Battle spends most of his off time dancing, gardening, running, cooking, or catching up on short stories mostly written by David Sedaris. Battle will soon begin graduate studies in Public Administration with an emphasis in non-profit arts management.

Julie BloodworthJulie Bloodworth


Julie Bloodworth is a former director of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy and has remained involved with the program as an advisor and faculty member. A lifelong educator, Bloodworth has taught speech, theatre, and English in both Texas and Missouri to students in middle-school, high school, and college. She's now teaching theatre classes per-course at Missouri State University, where she earned both her BA in theatre and her MS in Ed (English emphasis). She writes poetry and has been published in a variety of regional and national publications. In 2011, Bloodworth won the Missouri Citizens for the Arts arts advocacy award and the Missouri Arts Council education award. In her spare time, she helps out at Springfield Hot Glass, the blown glass art studio owned by her husband and son.

Joey BorovickaJoey Borovicka


Joey Borovicka is a native of the Springfield area. He received his BFA from Missouri State University in 2003, and his MFA from Indiana University in 2008. Borovicka's work has been exhibited in solo and group shows nationwide, and it has been published twice in New American Paintings. He has taught painting, drawing, and design at Indiana University, Missouri State University, and Drury University, and is returning to the Missouri Fine Arts Academy for the third year in a row. His own creative work is an exploration of place. "I relish the experience of new places, imaginary or otherwise, and painting is a way for me to dwell in the unfamiliar."

Ray CastreyRay Castrey


Ray Castrey has been associated with the Missouri Fine Arts Academy since its inception in 1996. He served as a faculty member, lead teacher, interdisciplinary arts/arts integration specialist, and Academy coordinator before becoming the director of MFAA in 2012. He is an emeritus member of Missouri State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, where he provided music and soundscapes for departmental productions and classes for 29 years. Castrey has created more than 70 works for theatre, dance, and video productions, and has performed in almost every imaginable, and some unimaginable, music venues. Most recently he composed and performed music for Kansas City Repertory Company’s production of "An Iliad" by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare. Castrey looks forward to great things with the Academy community this summer.

Richard ClineRichard Cline


Richard Cline spent two years after high school working for Sperry Rail Service, traveling throughout North America. He was inspired by his travels to embrace his calling in art, so he quit his job and enrolled at St. Charles Community College, which he attended from 1991 to 1993. Cline spent the summer of 1992 in Spain studying art and experiencing the birthplaces of many great artists. He was a co-founder of Zebra studios in St. Peters, Mo., a non-profit venue available to local artists and students to show their work. During this time, Cline participated in various art shows, including a solo exhibition at the college in St. Charles in 1996. He transferred to The School of The Art Institute Chicago in 1994 where he focused on sculpture and ceramics. He participated in several small group shows there including the Coyote Art Festival in Wicker Park, Ill., and was featured on the cover of the 1998 course catalog for the Oxbow School of Art in Saugatauk, Mich. Cline received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997 from the School of The Art Institute Chicago. He also received a master's degree in education administration in 2004 from Lindenwood University. He currently teaches at Hope High School in O'Fallon, Mo., a school designed specifically for at-risk youth. He currently teaches at Progress South Elementary School.

Rae DoyleRae Doyle

Resident Assistant

Rae Doyle attended MFAA in 2010 as a visual art student. She is now finishing her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies at Truman State University. Doyle's studies have been focused on International Development, and she draws from her artistic roots in her current work by seeking opportunities in which art and social change can intersect. Doyle believes that art can be both a universal avenue for disseminating transformative ideas and a viable tool for personal and socio-economic empowerment. She is most interested in painting, drawing and creative modes of writing, and she hopes to share with the MFAA community insight into the interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches that foster this powerful intersection.

Laura FosterLaura Foster

Media Manager

Laura Foster is thrilled to be returning for her fourth summer with the Missouri Fine Arts Academy! After graduating from Missouri State University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in speech and theatre education, Foster focused on raising her two awesome children and became an expert peanut butter and jelly maker and Dora the Explorer sing-alonger. In 2010, Foster launched Foster Photography, a portrait, wedding, and headshot photography business. Through that, she has had the privilege of photographing the Academy and documenting the incredibly talented students and staff. She has a love for students and seeing them blossom through fine arts. While not at the Academy, Foster continues to operate Foster Photography and serves as a Coordinator in the early childhood department at James River Church.

Megan FrauenhofferMegan Frauenhoffer

Coordinator and Faculty

Megan Frauenhoffer is a printmaking artist originating from St. Louis, Mo. Her formal art training began at Missouri State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with an emphasis in printmaking in May 2007. In May 2010, she completed a master's in visual studies, focusing on both drawing and printmaking at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her drawings, prints, and collages explore the ideas of perfection/imperfection, subconscious fears, identity, and trans-formative narratives. As an artist, Frauenhoffer's artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her artwork has been featured in "Beautiful/Decay Magazine," "Minneapolis CityPages 100 Creatives," "Paper Darts Press Get In If You Want To Live," and "Miami Art Basel." As a teacher, she has trained students of all ages at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis’s Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Saint Louis ARTworks Summer Program, Missouri State University, and Ozarks Technical Community College.

Zac FruitsZac Fruits

Resident Assistant

Zac Fruits is returning for his second year with the Academy. He’s pursuing a master’s degree in music, and is too busy to send a bio, so we’ve made one up for him:

"Fruits goes to school in Colorado, rendering him incommunicado."

Kurt HeinleinKurt Gerard Heinlein


Kurt Heinlein is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Missouri State University where he coordinates the BFA Actor Training Program. This is his fourth year teaching at MFAA. Heinlein is a working member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA. He is also an active member of The Society of American Fight Directors, Fight Directors Canada, and serves as executive leadership for The Association of Theatre Movement Educators. Heinlein has performed and directed extensively since completing his MFA in Acting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), with union performance credits that include New York, regional theatre, daytime drama, film, commercial print, and over 25 national television spots. His directing credits include New York, regional, and university theatre, and his stunt, aerial, and combat work have been seen in daytime drama, numerous national commercials, and in the professional and educational theatre circuits. Heinlein completed his Ph.D. in Theatre from Louisiana State University, and has been awarded several honors for his work in Green Theatre (performance that promotes socio-environmental betterment). Notable publications include "Koko and the Performance of Conservationism," "Green Theatre," and "Evangeline Drowning." In 2009, NPR dubbed Heinlein “The emerging father of American Green Theatre.” He maintains a consistent dedication to environmental education, noted by his volunteer work for The Nature Conservancy, The National Park Service, and the SAG sponsored BookPals Literacy Program. Heinlein has received several awards for his volunteerism and public service. He is married to Courtney Heinlein and they have two wonderful children together.

Melissa HerrMelissa Herr

Director and Faculty

Melissa Herr is thrilled to be the director of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy for 2016. Herr has been involved with arts education since 1997. Her work has included dramaturgical and education outreach internships at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, five years of teaching English and Theatre at the high school level, and participation in a Gates Foundation study of pedagogical practices in the elementary and secondary classroom. Herr holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Butler University, a Master's of Liberal Studies from Indiana University and a Master's of Arts in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. When she is not planning and advocating for the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, she enjoys reading, writing, teaching playwriting, editing and spending time with her family. Her children's poetry and short stories have appeared in Jack and Jill magazine.

Jacob HiserJacob Hiser

Pianist and Faculty

Jacob Hiser has been involved with MFAA since 2010, first as an accompanist and more recently as full-time faculty. He plays both piano and violin, and enjoys playing and studying all kinds of music. With his brother, he has performed professionally around the United States as the Hiser Brothers; and with the band Powder Mill, he has traveled as far as France to perform. Hiser graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in jazz studies, and now lives and works in Boston, studying Contemporary Improvisation at New England Conservatory.

Melanie HumphreyMelanie Humphrey

Resident Assistant

Melanie Humphrey is a 2010 MFAA alumni. Since MFAA, she has been attending Missouri State University where she will be graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting in the spring of 2015. Last semester she got to go to London and attend the Theatre Academy of London. It was there, she got immerse to herself in Shakespeare and other classic theatre. At the same she got to explore other European countries and the vast amount of cultures in this huge world. She has performed in several productions at Missouri State University and the Springfield area. She has also served as the Assistant House Manager and House Manager for Tent Theatre. When she is not acting she is reading, writing, and planning her next adventure!

Rachel JamiesonRachel Jamieson


Currently an instructor at Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical Community College, Placeworks Arts Outreach and Springfield Little Theatre, Rachel Jamieson was most recently a K-8 Drama Teacher at a Chicago Public Schools' Magnet School for the Arts. Shortly before that, she completed her M.A. in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities from New York University where she studied with Dorothy Heathcote, Cecily O’Neill, Julian (son of Augusto) Boal, and other world-renowned educational theatre practitioners. Jamieson has directed, stage managed, performed, taught students of all ages, and trained teachers in Chicago, New York City, Cork (Ireland), and now Springfield, Mo. She was a founder and the Artistic Director of the High School Repertory Company at the Children's Theatre of Western Springs for several years and was later Associate Education Director at Metropolis Performing Arts Center, both in Illinois. Other highlights include work with Lifeline Theater and Steppenwolf for Young Adults (Chicago), Manhattan Class Company's Youth Theatre (NYC), Cork Shakespearean Company, University College of Cork, and the Gaiety School of Acting (Ireland). Jamieson also holds a B.A. in Secondary Education for Theatre, Speech and English from Concordia University Chicago, and has taken several professional courses at Act One Studios (Chicago) as well as Lincoln Center Institute (NYC). She serves on the Board of Directors and Education Committee for the Springfield Regional Arts Council and has served in leadership positions with the Illinois Theatre Association, the Illinois and Missouri states' Theatre in Our Schools conferences, and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.

Jill KamlerJill Kamler

Resident Assistant

Jill Kamler grew up in Joplin, Mo., and attended Missouri Fine Arts Academy in 2010, where she studied theatre performance. She is a recent graduate of the Acting program at Missouri State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She has also recently studied with Florida State University’s Theatre Academy London, where she spent a semester abroad studying theatre and traveling within Europe.

In addition to theatre performance, Kamler enjoys performance poetry, songwriting with her ukulele, and the exploration of self-scripted narrative performance. Upon graduation, Kamler plans to relocate to Los Angeles, where she will pursue a career in acting, writing, and collaborative scripting with an emphasis on gender visibility.

Kamler looks back at her experience at MFAA as a jumping off point for her artistic pursuits, where she gained the confidence and guidance to follow her passions. She can’t wait to meet the next class of MFAA students!

Bethany KellyBethany Kelly

Resident Assistant

Bethany Kelly graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in art education in 2014. She has artistic practices that are based in the visual art currently, but prior to college she was involved in performance art. Kelly performed in the circus doing aerial acrobatics before planting both feet firmly on the ground in order to pursue her degree. Presently she draws her artistic inspiration from the ways that art, science, and math interact. She finds the abstract concepts in math and science to be visually stimulating and works to interpret those ideas into visually stimulating pieces of art. Kelly believes that art is unique in that it is the place where all other subjects can unite to create a more complete understanding of the world. Her interdisciplinary approach to creating installation-based art is something that she looks forward to sharing with the MFAA community.

Kacey KennedyKacey Kennedy

Resident Assistant

Kacey Kennedy is a music educator from O'Fallon, Mo. Kennedy received her bachelor's degree in music education from Culver-Stockton College in 2013. Her musical interests have led her to many parts of the world including Russia and France. Kennedy is an alumna of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy Class of 2007 and is ready for her fifth year as an RA with Missouri's brightest and best students!

Melinda LeinMelinda Lein


Dr. Melinda Lein (Voice Instructor) is returning for her sixth year at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at Wingate University in Wingate, NC, where she teaches applied voice as well as music history. She has also taught courses in music appreciation, diction for singers, vocal literature, as well as an honors course in fine arts. She completed her doctoral degree in voice and her master's degree in musicology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and she holds a master's degree in vocal performance and bachelor's degrees in vocal performance and music education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Lein is an active recitalist and has appeared as soprano soloist in works such as Fauré's Requiem, Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Mendelssohn's St. Paul, Rutter's Magnificat and Vivaldi's Gloria, just to name a few. Opera credits include roles in Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Handel), Dialogues of the Carmelites (Poulenc), Die Fledermaus (Strauss), Gianni Schicchi (Puccini), and Die Zauberflöte (Mozart). Lein is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the College Music Society (CMS), and Sigma Alpha Iota.

Ian MerriganIan Merrigan

Guest Artist

Ian Merrigan was born in Kansas City and now lives in Los Angeles, California where he writes, acts, and composes music for film and television. He is co-creator of "The Unfortunates", a musical that had its world premiere production last year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Merrigan was a MFAA student in 1999, an RA in 2003, and has served four years as a faculty member.

David OllingtonDavid Ollington


David Ollington is honored to return for his tenth summer serving on the faculty of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre from Kansas State University and a Master of Fine Arts in dance from Texas Christian University. This summer he will be directing Leap of Faith at Tent Theatre where he directed Forever Plaid (2014), choreographed Fiddler on the Roof (2014), and choreographed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2010). His choreography has been called “witty” by The Kansas City Pitch Weekly, “brilliantly choreographed” by the Kansas City Star, and Dance Magazine said “Theatre dance doesn’t get any better.” An Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance at Kansas State University, he has received three commendations from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in recognition of his choreography for the K-State productions of Pippin (2005), Urinetown (2006), and The Music Man (2012). In 2003, The Kansas City Press Club presented him with two awards, Best Entertainment Writing and the President’s Award for Outstanding Work, for his Theatre/Dance review column in EKC Magazine. Ollington choreographed the world premiere of the Theatre for Young America version of Seussical at the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City (2004), returning to the Coterie to direct it in 2011. In 2013, he directed The Fantasticks at the Great Plains Theatre. Ollington has set dances for The Seattle Children’s Theatre, ARC Dance Productions of Seattle, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The American Heartland Theatre, the Heartland Men's Chorus, the City in Motion Dance Company, and the Disney Institute in Orlando, Fla.

Dr. Paula PattersonPaula Patterson


Dr. Paula Patterson has performed leading roles with numerous opera companies including the Spanish National Opera in Madrid, Ohio Light Opera, Texas Opera Theatre in Houston, Opera Carolina in Charlotte, Opera Iowa, and Heartland Opera Theater in Joplin.  She was a regional finalist and education grant recipient of the Metropolitan Opera auditions as well as a finalist in the San Francisco Opera Center, Chicago Lyric Opera and Pittsburgh Opera Center auditions.  After receiving a Masters in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied with Elizabeth Mannion, she completed Young Artist Programs at San Diego Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. Her operatic roles include Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Suzuki in Madame Butterfly, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Mother in Amahl and the Night, Second Lady in Magic Flute, Mercedes in Carmen, Marcellina in Marriage of Figaro, Gianetta in Elixir of Love, Miss Todd in Old Maid and the Thief, and Czipra in Gypsy Baron. She has served stage director for Springfield Regional Opera and MSU Opera Workshop.

In musical theatre, she has appeared with Rudy Gatlin as Laurie in Oklahoma! in Branson, Missouri. Other roles include Eva Peron in Evita, Anna in The King and I, Maria in The Sound of Music, Amnesia in Nunsense, Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music and Miss Andrew in Mary Poppins, as well as the musical revues of A Grand Night for Singing, The World Goes Round, and All Night Strut. This summer, she will appear in Tent Theatre’s productions of Leap of Faith and Hairspray.

In recent years, Patterson has performed solo recitals in Qingdao, China; Oswego, New York, Atlanta, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee, and Bowling Green, Ohio. Other concerts include solos with the Springfield Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of the Ozarks, the Ozarks Chorale in Arkansas, Southwest Baptist University, and Evangel University choirs and orchestra. She completed a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri, Columbia and Levels I, II, and III of the Contemporary Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. She is an Associate Professor of Voice at Missouri State University and Music Director at Grace United Methodist.

Tom PolettTom Polett


Dr. Thomas C. Polett is currently a Professor of Music at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., where he is the Director of Low Brass/Jazz Studies. He has held similar positions at Georgia College, Limestone College (S.C.), and North Greenville College (S.C.).
Polett earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in music performance from Arizona State University, and a doctorate in musical arts in trombone performance from The University of Georgia. He has studied trombone with Philip Jameson, Gail Wilson, Stephen McEuen, Scott Hartman, and Joeseph Alessi.
Polett has performed with numerous professional and regional symphony orchestras, including the Charleston (S.C.) Symphony, Greenville (S.C.) Symphony, Asheville (N.C.) Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Arizona Ballet Orchestra. He is a former member of the South Carolina based Aurora Brass Quintet, which toured Italy twice, was the 1995 American representative to the Verona (Italy) International Brass Festival, and served as the Resident Brass Quintet for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. Polett has made solo appearances at the Eastern Trombone Workshop, College Music Society, and Missouri Music Educator's Association Conference. Polett was a member of the Cramer Trombone Choir at the 1999 International Trombone Festival in Potsdam, N.Y., and performed for the 2000 New York Brass Conference as a member of the Missouri Brass Consortium.  

Polett cannot wait to begin yet another MFAA journey – the most rewarding and challenging time of his artistic and academic year.

Eric SchultzEric Schultz


Dr. Eric Schultz enjoys an active and diverse musical life as a composer and performer of contemporary and experimental music, a recording engineer, a record producer, a saxophonist, an occasional percussionist, a conductor, a live sound engineer, an opera librettist, a Foley artist for heavy metal rock opera, a bunny-suit-wearing experimental dancer, and extremely over-educated and highly underwhelming karaoke singer. Schultz presently makes his living as the Director of Music Technology at Chabot College in Hayward, California, where he teaches recording, audio production, and rock music history. Schultz and his wife Melissa (who met at the MFAA) live in the San Francisco Bay area with their dogs Miles and Theo.

Emily (Ems) SquiresEmily (Ems) Squires


Emily Squires is an artist and educator currently living in Portland, Oregon. She has facilitated arts programming for youth with Philadelphia-based organizations such as Fleisher Art Memorial and the Mural Arts Program, in addition to the Missouri Fine Arts Academy of Springfield, Mo., and the Missouri Gay Straight Alliance Network in St. Louis. Squires' multidisciplinary practice investigates themes such as voice, participation, and love. She received her MFA at Washington University in St. Louis and a BFA in Printmaking and a BA in Education through the Arts from the University of Michigan. Information about her work can be found at www.emilysquires.com.

Melissa VentimigliaMelissa Ventimiglia


Melissa Ventimiglia is a theatre teacher who has spent 16 years as a performing musician. Her pursuit of art is an exploratory journey into what art can be and what, to her, it shouldn't be. Ventimiglia has shared the stage with several national touring acts and has played many empty coffee houses. Now she resides in California and works as a substitute teacher and also runs a small woodworking shop, creating original and commissioned pieces. As a human being, her goal is to perpetuate the idea that people are important and that they matter.

Nicholas WardNicholas Ward


Nicholas Ward’s artistic practices include that of filmmaker, animator, poet and visual artist. Since the spring of 2007 he has worked on numerous public and community-based mural projects throughout the US. In response to the unique quality of community engagement inherent in these collaborative mural projects, he and artist Amber Hansen began working in 2010 to produce the feature length documentary film: Called to Walls (release Jan 2014). In 2009 Ward studied at the acclaimed KID (Puppet for Film Animation) program in Prague CZ. He is a Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, 2011 Artist in Residence. He has also instructed courses in drawing at the University of Kansas and has led youth courses in drawing and animation at the Lawrence Arts Center. Ward received a BFA degree from the University of South Dakota in 2007 and a MFA degree from the University of Kansas in 2010. He currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas.