Ever since she began working at SFCC in 2017, Dr. Ashley DeMoville has been creating waves. The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) recently recognized her efforts in revamping the drama department with the ATHE/KCACTF Prize for Innovative Teaching.
This prize is awarded for innovative teaching supporting student success in theatre arts. ATHE representatives deliver the award at each KCACTF region festival, and winners receive a plaque and membership and fee waivers for one year. This year, Dr. DeMoville was the only candidate selected from our region.
Dr. DeMoville is committed to fostering an actor-centered theater at SFCC, and her boundless enthusiasm has brought the school’s drama education and theatrical productions to new heights. She teaches a range of 100 to 200-level courses in humanities and drama history, theory, and practice and produces three theatrical productions each year.
As Director of the Drama Department, Dr. DeMoville spearheaded a complete overhaul and revamp of the curriculum to meet industry standards and transfer agreement guidelines. Students now have a more robust experience studying acting techniques, set design, lighting, and more.
“Our Drama program here at SFCC, and our faculty and student artists, excel in large part because of the support, guidance, and compassion Dr. DeMoville brings to the artistic and collaborative process,” said Drama instructor Kemuel DeMoville, who is married to Dr. DeMoville.
Dedicated to increasing accessibility, Dr. DeMoville also has spearheaded changes to make the Spartan Theatre ADA compliant. When she first began teaching at SFCC, the Spartan Theatre had no way to accommodate all students who wanted to take acting or technical theatre courses. There were no wheelchair ramps or elevator access for individuals facing mobility challenges to reach the stage floor. The Spartan Theatre has since been renovated, and Dr. DeMoville is a constant and vocal advocate for accessibility so all students have access to spaces where they can shine.
Leading the drama program through the COVID-19 pandemic also required much innovation. Starting in February 2020, Dr. DeMoville successfully guided the program through social distancing, in-person and Zoom classes and rehearsals to produce four fully realized play productions over Zoom. All of those productions were recognized by KCACTF adjudicators for their high quality and innovative production components. Most recently, Dr. DeMoville directed Alicia in Wonder Tierra (Or I Don’t Eat Goat Head), a collaborative effort with the Digital Filmmaking program.
In addition to her contributions to the Spartan Theatre, Dr. DeMoville also has received the SFCC Exceptional Faculty Award three times and a NISOD Excellence Award. She is dedicated to reinvigorating the student Bigfoot Drama Club, focusing on better branding and recruitment. Voted in as Department Chair by her peers in the Communication Arts, Modern Language, Drama and Film departments, Dr. DeMoville has served in this role since 2020 and was awarded tenure in the same year.
“I can say without reservation that Dr. DeMoville is a gifted teacher who interacts well with and inspires her students,” said Dean of Humanities Linda Beane-Boose. “She is unflappable, facing challenges head-on with her customary determination and great sense of humor.”
For Dr. DeMoville, the community she works with is the real prize.
“I’m beyond grateful and touched to have this amazing group of colleagues that took the time to write nomination letters,” Dr. DeMoville said. “In that way, the award really is a testament to how this whole college supports the Drama Program. We would not be able to offer these innovative learning experiences to our students without the administration's support and associated student government. Of course, the greatest reward is seeing our students transfer to universities or get work in the entertainment industry. That is why we're all here – to transform student lives and expand their opportunities.”