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Have your students experience the power of oratory.

Using the words of President Lincoln, students will learn the historical context of a speech, the power of oratory and the fundamentals of performance and public speaking. As part of this distance learning program, students will:

  • Learn how to analyze and understand complex text
  • Learn our approach to effective public speaking and performance
  • Receive five free virtual lessons via video conference by a professional teaching artist

At the end of this project, your class is invited to create a video of the speech they learned to showcase their performance skills. All participating class videos will be shared on our YouTube channel and potentially featured on our website.

Meet Our Teaching Artists

A selected number of schools will have the privilege of receiving virtual classroom instruction to improve performance and public speaking techniques.

Scott Ward Abernethy

Scott was raised in Pennsylvania and holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Washington. He’s been an acting instructor and private coach throughout the DMV for 3 years. LOCAL: Kennedy Center: Second City’s Love Factually; Constellation Theatre: Little Shop of Horrors (Helen Hayes nom), Caucasian Chalk Circle (Helen Hayes nom), Master and Margarita; Longacre Lee: Interstellar Ghost Hour, Whipping; 4615: Measure of Cruelty, Venus in Fur; Rep Stage: The Other Place; 1st Stage: Broadway Bound, When the Rain Stops Falling; Keegan Theatre: Next to Normal (Helen Hayes award) REGIONAL: ACT: Christmas Carol; Seattle Shakespeare Co: Measure for Measure, King Lear, Love’s Labours' Lost; Book-it Rep: Jesus' Son, Anna Karenina; New City Theatre: Hamlet; Sound Theatre: Indian Ink (Gypsy award); FILM: The Infection, Off the Record; Only Connect. This is Scott’s second year working with Ford’s Education.

Ashley Buster

Ashley grew up just outside of Washington, DC in Silver Spring, MD. She earned a BA in Broadcasting Telecommunications and Mass Media and Theater from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and and an MA in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Loyola University Maryland. After living in New York and singing for Royal Caribbean International, Ashley moved back to the DC area to continue her acting career her and has been seen at NextStop Theater, Signature Theater, and in “The Wiz” and “Freedom’s Song” at Ford’s. Ashley is the School Programs Manager with Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. Ashley is also an Associate Artist with Ford’s Theatre. This is Ashley’s sixth year with Ford’s Education.

W. Ellington Felton

W. Ellington Felton is an Actor/Singer/Poet/Father, a native Washingtonian and product of DCPS School Without Walls. He studied Acting at Carnegie Mellon University Theatre Conservatory and returned to DC as a selected Company Member of Arena Stage's "Living Stage.”  Using his theatrical training and improvisational skills developed as a full-time musician, Felton introduces various facets of the arts through what he calls "EDUTAINMENT.”  He is an artist committed to social change in the classroom and on the various stages he performs worldwide. The son of Hilton Felton Jr., musical director of Ford's Theatre's "Five Guys Named Moe,” W. Ellington is excited to work with Ford's Theatre this year.  This is W. Ellington’s sixth year working with Ford’s Education.

Heidi Fortune

Heidi Fortune is a professional actor and teaching artist. Heidi holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts and a MA in Arts Administration from Winthrop University. Heidi has worked as a teaching artist for over a decade, most recently at Boys & Girls Clubs in South Carolina. At Boys & Girls Clubs, Heidi worked with hundreds of children to produce over 30 plays and 50 original student films. The program she created won many grants and awards, including a highly competitive National Endowment for the Arts grant and a national award from Comcast, Disney, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Heidi is the Director of Engagement with 1st Stage in Tysons, VA. This is her sixth year working with Ford's Education.

Yesenia Iglesias

Yesenia Iglesias is a native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico who currently resides in Washington, D.C. She earned a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Alabama - Huntsville, and an MFA from the Professional Actors Training Program at the University of Washington. Yesenia has taught for various programs and institutions including the Seattle Piano Institute, Upward Bound in Seattle, WA, in the John’s Children program with Geva Theatre Center, and with the Council for Exceptional Children in their policy and advocacy department. She’s performed on such stages as the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Signature Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, among others. This is Yesenia’s third year with Ford’s Education.

James Johnson (J.J.)

J.J. was raised in Front Royal, VA and holds a BFA in Theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University. His credits include: LC Minor in the world premiere of Our Suburb (Theater J), Aid Worker/Soldier in Ruined (Arena Stage), Honey Brown in A Member of the Wedding (Ford’s Theatre), Soldier in The Unmentionables (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), Baloo in The Jungle Book (Adventure Theatre MTC), James in Teddy Roosevelt and the Ghostly Mistletoe, Samuel Reed in The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Kennedy Center), Ricky-Trey in the world premiere of Kingdom (African Continuum Theatre Company), Wild Cow in Zomo the Rabbit and G. Petto in P. Nokio (Imagination Stage). This is James’s sixth year working with Ford’s Education.

Chelsea Mayo

Chelsea Mayo joined Ford's Theatre in 2019. Since moving to DC, she has taught theatre to students in grades K-12 through Shakespeare Theatre Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Lola's Laboratory, Del Ray Performing Arts Center, and Creative Kids. As an actor, Chelsea has performed at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington Stage Guild, Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Quotidian Theatre Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and Prince George's Shakespeare in the Parks. Chelsea holds in B.A. in Theatre and French with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies from Vanderbilt University. www.chelseamayo.com. This is Chelsea’s second year with Ford’s Theatre.

Victoria Reinsel

Victoria Reinsel is a classically trained professional actor, director, and teaching artist. She holds an MFA and M.Litt in Shakespeare in Performance from Mary Baldwin College. Victoria has worked with Shakespeare Theatre Company, American Shakespeare Center, Orlando Shakespeare, Taffety Punk, Chesapeake Shakespeare, among others, and she co-founded Brave Spirits Theatre. This is Victoria’s seventh year working with Ford’s Education.

Khaleshia Thorpe-Price

Khaleshia Thorpe-Price has worked as an arts educator since 2000. She has facilitated residencies and workshops for children and adults for Wolf Trap, Arena Stage, Young Playwrights’ Theater, Young Audiences of Maryland, Folger Shakespeare Library, Shakespeare Theater Company and M-NCPP. As an arts manager, she has coordinated workshops and residencies for thousands of students and educators in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. This is Khaleshia’s fourth year working with Ford’s Education.

Cynthia Webb-Manly

Cynthia has had a varied life. As a sailor in the Navy, Cynthia went from Florida to San Diego and eventually arrived in DC. Cynthia holds an MA in Theatre production and a BA in communication.  Cynthia has appeared on stage, in training films, feature films and television shows and voice-over projects. Cynthia has also freelanced as a make-up artist and costume designer, volunteered for work as a producer for the Actor's Center of Washington, DC, worked as a Paralegal, and recruiter for GWUs Master (M.Ed) program for those wanting to enter the teaching field, and as a coach for public speaking and theater. Recently she worked with middle and high school students at Green Acres School, Norwood School, Sidwell Friends School, Madiera School, Stone Ridge School, Pingree School (S. Hamilton, MA) and Prince Georges Public Schools and Baltimore City Public Schools.  This is Cynthia’s fifth year working with Ford’s Education.