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Working with a Ford’s Teaching Artist, students bring Lincoln’s words to life through a group performance.

Have your students to experience and explore the power of a historical speech. Classrooms study historical speeches and work with a Ford's teaching artist over a series of five in-person residency visits to learn oratory and performance skills. Throughout the program, students expand their vocabulary, develop public-speaking skills and build confidence as they bring historical speeches to life. The program culminates with classrooms performing on Ford’s historic stage on one of two Festival days in early February.

Participation in the program is via application. Each application is for ONE classroom only.

Deadline for application is October 1, 2021


“Thank you for the great experience of … get[ting us] on stage to get our jitters out and boost our confidence. You also boosted my speaking skills by not being afraid to be in front of a big crowd.”

- Brandon, Fifth Grader, Brent Elementary, 2016

Meet Our Teaching Artists

Ashley Buster

Ashley grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, MD. She earned a BA in Broadcasting Telecommunications and Mass Media and Theater from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and is currently earning her 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 D.C. area to continue her acting career here and has been seen at NextStop Theater, at Signature Theatre and in “Freedom’s Song” at Ford’s Theatre.

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 D.C. 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 is able to introduce 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. He is the son of Hilton Felton Jr., musical director of the Ford's Theatre production of "Five Guys Named Moe.”

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 more than 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.

James Johnson (J.J)

Johnson is a teaching artist and professional actor raised in Front Royal, VA, and holds a BFA in Theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University. Johnson has worked with Theater J, Arena Stage, Ford's Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Imagination Stage and the Kennedy Center, among others.

Chelsea Mayo

Chelsea Mayo, Teaching Artist 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. This is Chelsea’s first year with Ford’s Theatre.

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 Theatre 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 second year working with Ford’s Education Department.