DR. AMY J. RESSLER, MFA, EdD

Director, Storyteller, Theatre Educator

Amy Ressler is a director, actor, storyteller, theatre educator, playwright, and musician.  A specialist in drama for learning, she has a BA in drama from Clarke University, an MFA in theatre education from Arizona State University and a doctorate in educational leadership for learning and change from National-Louis University. She serves as an assistant professor of Theatre Education at California State University Bakersfield. Amy is the founding artistic director of the award-winning Great Midwestern Educational Theatre, which produces the annual Imagination Celebration for young children, the Family Storytelling Festival, and the Frogwarts School of Wizardry creativity and role-play summer camp. She worked in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center and at the Smithsonian Discovery Theatre. Before relocating to the Dubuque area, Ms. Ressler directed, taught and designed for many Chicago-area performing companies, including the Irish-American Heritage Theatre, the Music Institute of Chicago, North Park Opera, Light Opera Works, Northlight Theatre Co., Chicago Opera Theatre, National-Louis University, the Movement Center, CUBE ensemble, and the Kohl/McCormick-Tribune StoryBus. She was awarded the Outstanding Drama Specialist award by the Illinois Theatre Association, was recognized by the NAACP as a Ruby Sutton Humanitarian and named the 2015 Impact Award winner for “Best Individual Impact” by Dubuque 365Ink. In 2022, she was the recipient of the California State University, Bakersfield Millie Ablin Excellence in Teaching award. Amy performs locally as a storyteller, an improviser and as a member of the Die Laughing Murder Mystery ensemble. She loves teaching theatre arts because it gives her the opportunity to invite participation in “experience-oriented imaginative space.”

Personal Statement

I believe that we are all put on this earth to help each other become the best people we can be. Learning is one of the primary activities in achieving that highest of life’s objectives. My mission is to promote learning, using the skills of theatre to foster creativity, compassion, flexibility, mental agility and a sense of commitment to the common good. Change is all around us; it is at the center of human existence. Theatre and drama give us the opportunity to practice adapting to change and choosing how we may respond to it.

It is also fun and exciting to imagine the world we desire and need,
and an essential first step in creating that world. 

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Bob Eagle Amy Red Hood.jpg
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Carfrus Wart Snort.jpg
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Glass Menagerie GMETC.jpg
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Creative Drama.jpg
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365Impact awards.jpg
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Personal Profile

Get To Know Me

Courage, Creativity and Compassion are the guideposts for Dr. Ressler’s work as a specialist in drama for learning. She joined the theatre faculty at CSU Bakersfield in 2018 after 25 years in professional and educational theatre. She guides students to grow in improvisational mindset, developing flexibility, awareness, empathy and listening skills, while using drama methods to achieve their teaching objectives. She directs CSU Bakersfield’s annual theatre production for young audiences, which tours to schools throughout the Bakersfield area.    

Dr. Ressler hones her creativity skills by working with youth each summer in a major world-building immersive drama camp, where she portrays the role of Professor Bumblebone, headmistress of the Frogwarts School of Wizardry. The camp program is in its 20th year.

Work Experience

Assistant Professor - Theatre Education
California State University Bakersfield 

2018 - Present

Artistic Director 
Great Midwestern Educational Theatre

2002 - Present

Plan production seasons, direct productions, devise interactive theatre projects, teach workshops, recruit, train and oversee artistic associates, budgeting, program planning, grant writing, work with PR and Study Guide committees, advise the board of directors.

Teach courses in theatre education, dramatic literature for children, and General Education. Direct/manage annual Theatre for Young Audiences touring production.

Professor of Fine & Performing Arts 
University of Dubuque

2007-2018

Teach and direct for the department of Fine & Performing Arts. Highlights: produced and directed 32 productions, wrote and implemented an interdisciplinary major in Fine & Performing Arts.

English Teacher 
Shullsburg High School

2003 - 2005

Taught AP English, American Lit, British Lit, Applied English, 8th Grade Language Arts. Advised the cheerleading squad, directed school plays and musicals and served as accompanist for the choir.

Storyteller, Curriculum Coordinator

Kohl/Chicago Tribune StoryBus

2000 - 2002

Storyteller and drama teacher for PreK and K classes in Chicago.  Wrote and directed musical production promoting Pre-K literacy skills, created and delivered teacher in-services, parent literacy workshops. Drove and maintained the actual bus itself.

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts
National-Louis University

1990-2002

Taught and directed for the department of theatre arts.  Highlights: directed 20 theatre productions; wrote a curriculum for theatre major.

Educational Experience

Ed.D., National Louis University

2017-2020

Doctor of Education, in Educational Leadership;
Leadership for Learning and Change 

M.F.A., Arizona State University

1985-1988

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Education ("Child Drama"); awarded Outstanding Contribution to Child Drama.

B.A.,
Clarke University

1980-1984

Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama/Speech, Magna Cum Laude

Albert Einstein

"Imagination is everything. 
It is the preview of life's coming attractions."

Let's Connect

1505 Fairview Pl
Dubuque, IA 52001

(563) 542-5452

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