COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Springer Opera House announced Monday that the search for a new director of the Springer Theatre Academy has concluded with the hiring of Sally Vander Gheynst Baker.
Baker will replace the retiring Ron Anderson and will begin her tenure at the Springer in late May. Anderson announced his retirement last fall after serving as founding director of the Theatre Academy since 1996.
A search committee, consisting of representatives from the Springer board of directors, senior staff, Springer Theatre Academy parents and students conducted a four-month search, interviewing candidates from New York, Virginia, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Georgia.
Baker will take over two highly successful Springer programs, the Springer Theatre Academy and the Springer Children's Theatre. The Theatre Academy, the Springer's young-actor training program, currently has 700 active students and has trained over 6,000 students in theatre arts with the guiding mission of “teaching life skills through stage skills.”
The Springer Children's Theatre grew out of the Springer Theatre Academy and has presented professional level productions for tens of thousands of children from area school groups and family audiences since 2001.
"I am thrilled to accept this position," said Baker. "I feel I've been built for it. Every program I have ever run and every class I have ever taught has been preparing me to become the director of the Springer Theatre Academy and the Springer Children's Theatre. I am humbled to take over from Ron and excited to help move these incredible programs into the future."
Baker is a Columbus native and has a long history with the Springer, from being a child actor in the 1980s to being a regular guest instructor at the Springer Theatre Academy and guest director with the Springer Children's Theatre.
She is the daughter of the late Carol Vander Gheynst, who retired from Muscogee County Schools as director of planning, and Paul Vander Gheynst, a former professor of music at the Schwob School and dean of the CSU College of Arts and Letters.