From Heritage Alum to Inspirational AHS Educators, Nurturing Creativity in the Fine Arts Department
From Heritage Alum to Inspirational AHS Educators, Nurturing Creativity in the Fine Arts Department
Fine Arts Teachers Alumni Collage

In a full circle homecoming story, four remarkable alumni, now Fine Arts faculty members at American Heritage Schools, Broward Campus, shared their unique journeys and the profound impact their alma mater has had on their lives. Here's an intimate look into the experiences and philosophies of Kristopher Winselmann, a lifer and Class of 2013, Performing Arts Instructor; Jon Reid, a lifer and Class of 1998, Co-Director of Fine Arts; Alyssa Fantel, Class of 2015, Visual & Performing Arts Instructor; and Angela Moorman-Davis, Class of 2005, as they continue to shape the next generation of artists.

Heritage Focus: Artistic Passion and Extracurricular Pursuits
Kristopher was mainly in the orchestra, and Jon took every art class possible. He did Wrestling all through high school and was captain during his senior year. Alyssa said "Theatre and academics were my priorities. I was drawn to AHS because of the theatre department’s reputation." Angela Moorman-Davis focused on the Performing Arts, participating in Choir, Theatre, and Theatre Tech. She was also active in Track & Field, competing in hurdles, long jump, and triple jump.

Memorable Heritage Moments: Shaping the Journey Back to Teach
Kristopher, having been with the orchestra since his early years, warmly recalls, "I really enjoyed orchestra class. Now teaching all grade levels and being back in the room where I learned music is a surreal feeling." Jon Reid, reflecting on his time, shared, "I have had many experiences with my art teacher, Brad Tremper (current Director of Fine Arts at American Heritage Schools, Palm Beach), giving me an array of projects and mediums to create with. I try to do the same things with my students." Alyssa's dedication to theatre arts and academics led her to take on roles in A Cappella Choir, perform at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall, and actively engage in various leadership roles within the school community. She added, "One of the most memorable experiences was traveling to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the summer before my junior year." Angela Moorman-Davis recalls, "My most memorable experience was actually joining the choir! I was at a Biomedical Magnet School in Baltimore and when I transferred to Heritage my junior year, I already had all my required math and science classes needed to graduate and I saw there was a choir and joined. I was instantly reminded how much I missed it and I ultimately changed my career path. Being asked to teach my favorite thing at the same school, in the same room, where I fell back in love with it was a no-brainer!"

Skills and Wisdom from American Heritage
When asked about valuable skills or lessons from their time at American Heritage, Kristopher emphasized, "Pride in what I learned. Confidence in what I know." Jon Reid highlighted, "My writing skills plus my knowledge of different art forms," acknowledging the integral role these skills play in his current profession, while Angela and Alyssa underscore the importance of time management, stating, "We learned the expression 'Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.’ “That lesson carried through to my university program and still influences how I approach all of my work,” Alyssa recalls.
Perspectives From Student to Educator
In an exchange about the evolution of their perspectives on fine arts education, Kristopher stated, "I have a much better understanding of why the arts are important, not just enjoyable." He elaborated on the interconnectedness of music with various disciplines, emphasizing its cross-curricular nature, from mathematics to language arts, history, science, and social/emotional learning.

Jon, reflecting on his student years, admitted, "As a student, I wasn't aware of everything that goes into developing such a diverse program with so many different areas of visual and performing arts." 

Alyssa, discussing the industry's shifts, particularly during the pandemic, stated, "The entire industry has gone through many shifts throughout the past decade." As an educator, she recognizes her responsibility to prepare students for the evolving realities of the industry, emphasizing the need to address issues of power, equity, and the changing landscape of stages and screens. She aims to impart valuable lessons on topics like "type casting" and proper treatment of actors within her daily curriculum.

Angela Moorman-Davis shared her perspective, "As students, we perform because it's fun. We don't realize how much the Arts help develop us... not just as performers but as empathetic humans."

Tech, Traditions and Trends: Adapting Teaching Methods for Modern Arts 
When exploring their adaptability to technological advancements and changes in the art world, Kristopher, shares, "I have seen music performed on iPads. I have even used this method at various gigs." While acknowledging the convenience of digital tools, he also emphasizes the enduring importance of traditional methods, expressing a desire to maintain a balance and preserve the natural feeling rooted in music history. Furthermore, he envisions outfitting the school with electronic classical instruments to bring a more modern approach to performances.  "Excellence has always been the school's code. At least in my eyes." He aspires to not only preserve the tradition of excellence but also to set an example and surpass expectations. 

Jon, as an advocate for a well-rounded artistic education, stated, "I have always been a big proponent of learning/teaching the hand-drawn/painted/sculpted forms of art, but also integrating the digital formats." Recognizing the value of versatility, he aims to create artists with skills across traditional and digital platforms, ensuring they can navigate diverse artistic challenges seamlessly.

Alyssa, focusing on the evolution of audition processes, noted, "Technological advancements have completely changed the way people audition." While in-person auditions are still a norm, she emphasizes the importance of adapting to the digital landscape. Alyssa incorporates on-camera projects into her classes, providing students with a firsthand experience of transitioning their acting skills from stage to screen. She stated, "I firmly believe in the foundation of this school because I went through it and I see how the rigor and integrity have benefited me." While upholding traditions, Alyssa actively seeks to infuse new perspectives into the Fine Arts department. Her approach includes bringing in guest artists, updating the curriculum to reflect current methods and the changing professional landscape, and introducing new courses and resources to foster a dynamic and evolving artistic environment. “The school has also approved my Playwriting course for the upcoming school year! I am very excited to bring that part of storytelling to the students to develop their creativity and empower their voices," shared Alyssa.

Angela Moorman-Davis reflected, "Although holding an octavo is much easier in class, I do enjoy the ease of students being able to edit their scores on their iPads and having access to those notes wherever they go. And when the world shut down in 2020, we were still able to make music together, just in a re-defined way; I even learned new tech skills to create virtual choirs, and learned amazing ways to assess each individual student without taking away class time."

Facing Challenges, Offering Guidance
About overcoming challenges and offering advice to current students, Kristopher reflected on battling a negative mindset, acknowledging the ease of perceiving tasks as hard or unreachable: "Breaking through the limited mindset has been a struggle of mine." To overcome this, he turned to self-reflection and literature, finding solace in positive mental self-speeches that boosted his motivation and passion. He emphasized the importance of recognizing that the biggest challenge in life lies not in aspiring to be like someone else but in surpassing one's own past achievements, and encouraging others to embrace personal growth.

Alyssa, having faced the significant challenge of moving to a new country in 2021, shares her experience and the crucial lesson she learned: "Moving to a new country presented many challenges, I can assure you! But I had to learn how to ask for help." Her advice, particularly to young people, is to seek assistance from teachers, parents, coaches, and mentors, emphasizing that these individuals have navigated similar challenges and are eager to offer support as a transformative tool in overcoming obstacles.

Angela Moorman-Davis shared her particularly challenging moment of trying to teach choir online/hybrid, especially with a class having one student in person and the rest online: "We changed our plan that semester from listening to each other's voices to listening to each other's ideas. We dove into the world of songwriting and created amazing music and discovered a new talent." Her experience highlights the importance of adaptability and creativity in overcoming obstacles. Her advice to students is to remain flexible and open to new approaches when faced with challenges.

Advice for Recent Fine Arts Graduates
The conversation concluded by offering advice and sharing pearls of wisdom to guide emerging artists on their journey.

Kristopher imparts a message of self-trust and belief, saying, "Trust yourself. You know you. Believe in what YOU believe. Filter out anything preventing you from achieving your goals." He encourages graduates to recognize the uniqueness of their likes and interests, emphasizing the importance of finding oneself and maintaining unwavering belief in eventual success.

Jon, reflecting on the perpetual learning curve in the arts, advocates for continuous growth, stating, "Never stop learning new techniques and technology or pushing your creative side to keep making art." His advice underscores the dynamic nature of the field, urging graduates to stay abreast of evolving techniques and technologies while nurturing their creative spirit.

Alyssa's counsel centers on embracing the journey of self-discovery beyond the chosen fine arts path. She reassures graduates that uncertainty is acceptable, stating, "It may be scary, but it’s also the most exciting time to keep trying new things and making sure you are a well-rounded human." Alyssa highlights the importance of cultivating other talents and hobbies, recognizing that these pursuits can enrich one's artistic endeavors. She emphasizes the value of maintaining genuine connections, as opportunities in the arts often stem from authentic relationships built on kindness and a strong work ethic.

Angela Moorman-Davis advises recent graduates to "Never stop learning… about your craft or yourself! Step out of your comfort zone and embrace challenges and new opportunities. You have the tools & the talent, just add the confidence and kind heart!" She adds, "Treat your life like a jigsaw puzzle, if a piece doesn’t fit, or a role doesn’t work out, don’t try to force it or dwell on it; Keep going because the right one is out there for you!" Angela's words encourage graduates to embrace lifelong learning, remain flexible, and trust that the right opportunities will come with perseverance and an open heart.

Legacy and Future Continues
In the continuation of their inspiring narratives, Kristopher Winselmann, Alyssa Fantel, Jon Reid, and Angela Moorman-Davis exemplify the spirit of American Heritage Schools' fine arts department. Balancing tradition with innovation, they nurture a vibrant artistic community and prepare students for a dynamic future in the ever-evolving world of the arts. With each stroke, note, and performance, they continue to orchestrate the legacy of excellence, ensuring American Heritage Schools remains a top contender in arts education nationwide.