As you may have read in The Cincinnati Enquirer, WordPlay is approaching our 5th anniversary and we are proud to announce that Jared O’Roark is joining our team in the new position of Education and Outreach Director.
Our third full-time staff member, he will direct WordPlay’s programs for children and teens in grades K-12, including deepening the scope and impact of existing programs, mentoring program staff and volunteers and identifying new collaborations that will expand our reach across the city, including pilot initiatives starting this school year: the WordPlay Writers Room at Aiken High School and the WordPlay Cincy Learning Academy.
Jared O’Roark emphasizes the importance of Play in WordPlay
“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Jared joining us at such a pivotal time in our growth,” says WordPlay Executive Director & cofounder Libby Hunter. “He brings an impressive and expansive history in creative teaching strategies, both in public schools and through nonprofits. He rolls up his sleeves and dives into projects with a boundless energy and dedication that truly creates life-changing experiences for young people and the greater community.”
O’Roark comes to WordPlay from Tampa, Florida, where he has spent the past 15 years working in nonprofit arts education. He won numerous awards for creating and directing the innovative teen storytelling program, Project Shattered Silence, which resulted in an Emmy award-winning documentary.
In addition, O’Roark specializes in training youth educators in creative teaching strategies that help young people to create the safe intellectual and emotional space in which learning can happen. Most recently, he worked as Professional Development Lead alongside the Director of Education and Community Relations at Cincinnati Arts Association. In that role, he created and implemented professional development workshops along with teachers, school administrators and both local and national teaching artists to bring innovative arts education strategies to Cincinnati Public Schools.
"WordPlay echoes everything I believe in when it comes to the power of the arts to develop confidence in the generation taking over the world tomorrow,” O’Roark says, excited to take the next steps with the fast-growing organization. Our WordPlay staff members are equally invigorated about the new hire. “Jared will truly be an asset to our WordPlay Cincy team,” says Desirae Hosley, teaching artist and teen Program Coordinator.“Positivity radiates from his personality and he has a wealth of knowledge to help our programs continue to exceed expectations.”
O’Roark’s arrival couldn’t come at a better time. WordPlay has grown nearly tenfold since it served an average of 100 students in programs during our founding year of 2012, to an anticipated reach of 1,000 young people in the new 2017-18 school year and summer. Weekly, that works out to an average of 350 students.
“I am looking forward to the inspiration that I am going to get from developing the organization along with the staff of WordPlay, and the insanely powerful artists that exist in both Northside and the city of Cincinnati,” O’Roark says.