Maria Beery

Ashland University grad Beery returns to area to teach theatre with experience in New York

Published on April 05, 2023
College of Arts & Sciences

While she enjoyed her time in New York, 1997 Ashland University graduate Maria Beery is happy to be back in the area teaching theatre classes at the Richland Academy of the Arts.

“The building may be different and many of the faces are new, but RAA still has the same unmistakable creative energy that it had 25 years ago when I first started there,” said Beery, who first taught classes, workshops and summer programs part time for RAA while she was a student at AU. “I’ve loved having the opportunity to develop some new classes and work with students, as well as work alongside fellow committed and passionate arts educators.”

Not only has Beery been back teaching at RAA since 2021, she also has been a musical theatre instructor at Starlight School of Dance in Massillon since August when her 4-year-old daughter began taking dance classes there, as well as a 10th grade language arts teacher and drama club adviser for the Ohio Virtual Academy since the COVID-19 pandemic. She also has taught theatre at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood since coming back to the area from New York.

Playing Princess Minnie Mouse in a summer theater workshop of “Mickey and the Magic Cabbage” when she was 8 years old first sparked Beery’s interest in acting.

Beery started her career path toward theatre education at the suggestion of a professor when she was a sophomore at AU.

Because most of her early theatre experiences were summer workshops and programs at AU, Beery chose to attend the university after graduating from Hillsdale High School in 1993. Her parents also are AU alums.

“I think the theatre program provided so many opportunities for hands-on experience for its students,” said Beery, whose bachelor’s degree was in both theatre and philosophy.  

After earning master’s degrees in theatre and education at Bowling Green State University, Beery went to New York for 10 years to hone her skills as a performer and director and for more opportunities to grow as an arts educator.

While she still spent quite a few summers in Ohio teaching theater and playwriting in the Upward Bound program at BGSU when she lived in New York, she said the time just felt right in 2015 to move back to the area permanently.

“I had a lot of memorable moments there,” she said. “By the time I was nearing my 40s, I knew that it was time to come home. I was looking to transition into the next phase in my life. Plus, I had friends and family back here that I missed deeply.”

Michael Benson, executive director of Richland Academy of the Arts, said Beery is beloved by her theatre students and faculty colleagues at RAA.

“Mrs. Beery’s acting, directing and administrative experience in New York City and across Ohio represent her commitment to and passion for art education,” Benson said. “The Richland Academy is blessed to have her inspiring the next generation of artists.”

Erin Wolford, dance teacher, agrees that her colleague is a great asset to RAA.

“Maria is a conscientious educator with a breadth of knowledge and experience,” Wolford said. “She is passionate about developing students and building programming that focuses on all facets of the theatre experience.

“Not only does she have the education and experience to be an effective leader,” Wolford added, “but she is also wonderfully kind and fun to work with.”