From national awards to travel opportunities, our artists have had a banner year and with over 150+ events this year, our studios continue to put out incredible creative work. This year we tried new things like Live Karaoke, Jazz Night, Art in Action/Arts Frontier Days, MS students dove into the world of digital art with Ms. Terry and created immersive games with Mr. Ibanez. We opened a digital design lab, podcast studio, and competed at Jr. ThesCon for the first time! There are so many things to be proud of and as the breadth and depth of our program continues to expand, so will the arts leadership that helps to make it all happen.
This summer, Matt Neylon will transition from Director of Visual & Performing Arts into the role of Chief Talent & Experience Officer focused on supporting staff wellness, retention, and recruitment efforts. With 53% of teachers across the country considering leaving the profession, it is not an easy time to be in education and Matt is excited to partner with Kristy Lundstrom and the MV community to create a culture of wellness, purpose, and belonging for our faculty & staff. Since Matt joined Mount Vernon in 2015, the Arts Department has grown in tandem with the School and this moment creates an opportunity to expand arts leadership to meet the needs of students and staff.
(from left to right: Kalen Curtis, Shay Jones, Lynn Luster, Spencer Stephens)
Shay Jones will become the Lower Campus Director of Arts and focus on building bandwidth for faculty to integrate creative strategies, physical development, literacy, and wellness into all classes. For five years, Shay has demonstrated mastery of Early Childhood Education. She has built a Performing Arts model that integrates music with movement and theatre fundamentals using innovative pedagogies such as mindfulness, yoga, literature, visual art, and occupational therapy. Shay has a unique ability to deliver a well-rounded creative education that meets students’ mental, physical, and emotional needs. In this new role, Shay will help other teachers develop these skills, continue to teach performing arts for Kindergarten & Grade 1, and coordinating arts opportunities/events for Preschool through Lower School. Shay is a kind, thoughtful, organized, and professional artist who will be a phenomenal leader and mentor.
Kalen Curtis has joined the team as Upper Campus Director of Arts and will focus on arts programming, event planning, communication, staff support, and partner with Mount Vernon Arts Alliance to coordinate volunteer opportunities. Additionally, Kalen will partner with Mount Vernon Ventures to help build capacity and strategy for Mount Vernon Online as we build out our global campus. Kalen joins us as after spending 10+ years with Savannah College of Art & Design where she led various admission teams around the world and oversaw the team responsible for growing the population of incoming international students to SCAD from Canada, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Oceania. She holds degrees in Photography & Higher Education Administration. She is thrilled to be joining the MV Family and will have a huge impact on our programs.
Lynn Luster will step into the role of Upper School Connections Learning Architect and continue to build, enhance, and align our curricular programs. With degrees in Art & Creative/Innovative Teaching, as well as many years experience teaching Visual Art, MDE, and iProject, Lynn is the perfect person to lead the connectors in this role. Much like the other Learning Architects on Upper Campus, Lynn will focus on aligning learning outcomes and curriculum across grade levels and disciplines. She will be a phenomenal coach/supporter of the Arts Team and will foster a collaborative environment where teachers learn from each other to create interdisciplinary experiences for students.
This year, Spencer Stephens stepped into the role of Production Manager and will continue to manage AVL (audio/visual/lighting) elements for Arts Events in addition to managing the MS Theatre Program. Through initiatives like “Tech Tuesdays” and a slew of MS Theatre classes, Spencer has a unique ability to empower students who might never have found their way into the theatre. Not only has Spencer been in professional theatre and education for 20 years, he also has a background in business administration, which helps him to balance several theatrical productions each season and execute over 150+ arts events each year. He will continue to lead the MS Theatre Program and facilitate production meetings to make sure the technical elements of the Arts program continue to enhance our events and put students in the driver’s seat.
The remarkable skills of these team members compliment each other beautifully and will ensure that our Arts programs continue to grow and flourish while providing leadership and support for the next chapter of Mount Vernon Studios.
About Mount Vernon Studios
As an arts department, we want to be a destination for creatives around the Atlanta-area and beyond to be inspired by the art our students make. Whether we are dancing in a dance studio, painting and drawing in a visual art studio, performing in a black box studio theatre, making an album in a recording studio, or broadcasting from a film studio, we are committed to creating the future at Mount Vernon Studios.