Michael J. Vetere III received his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from Illinois State University, a Masters of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from Virginia Commonwealth University in theatre pedagogy, and his Bachelors of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) from West Virginia University in creative dramatics, puppetry, and youth theatre. He taught and directed creative dramatics and puppetry programs in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Washington D.C. area.
Veterere's performing and teaching credits include The Puppet Co., Spectrum Puppets, Suspended Belief Theatre, and Milwaukee Rep. He has trained at the Sandglass Theatre Puppet Intensive, Marlboro, VT; Banff Puppetry Intensive with Olde Trout Puppet Theatre, Banff, AB; and with Puppetry in Prague Workshop, Washington, D.C.
Vetere is a published author and has presented at state, regional, and national conferences on various topics including puppetry in education, creative dramatics, and arts integration. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Creative Drama and Puppetry at Illinois State University and coordinates a Saturday program for youth grades K-6.
Creative drama and puppetry practitioner, Maggio also holds a fine arts degree from Naropa University. She has taught children art and drama for over 20 years and values the art of play, curiosity, and understanding in all of her teachings. Maggio currently constructs and performs puppets for Suspended Belief Theatre, LLC in Bloomington.
Irizarry is a senior theatre design production major at Illinois State University, minoring in children studies. She is returning for her second year of teaching creative drama. For various years she was a camp counselor and assistant campsite coordinator before pursuing theatre full time. In her spare time, she loves reading, volunteering, and babysitting children. Irizarry loves how creative drama gives children the opportunity to take risks and reminds them to enjoy every second.
Gillis is a senior theatre education and acting major at Illinois State University. She is returning for her third year of teaching creative drama. She has spent the last six years as a support staff for Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, where she does summer camp and teaches various programs for individuals with special needs. In her spare time, she loves being involved in multiple theatre organizations on campus, reading, and volunteering. Gillis loves how creative drama encourages young people to imagine the impossible and create art.
Rechtien is a senior acting and theatre education major at Illinois State University. She has a background in improv, puppetry, pantomime, and many other fun theatre activities!
Wendt is currently a sophomore theatre education major with an endorsement in history. This is his first semester teaching Creative Drama and he is really excited about the opportunity. In his free time, Wendt takes part in an improv troupe and is a member of a theatre RSO that focuses on theatre for social change and outreach.
Wilson-Miller is a freshman acting major at Illinois State University. This is his first semester volunteering with Creative Drama. Wilson-Miller has a background that includes several high school shows and experience working with children through teaching swimming lessons at his local pool. In his free time Wilson-Miller enjoys playing guitar, reading, and video games. He is excited to begin helping with Creative Drama and being able to teach children about theatre as a safe place for expression and joy.