Kirstin Lynch-Walsh, teacher of Speech Arts & Dramatics for the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) School of Performing Arts, was selected as the 2019-2020 Outstanding Educator of the Year by the New Jersey Thespians, an affiliate of the Educational Theatre Association. Mrs. Lynch-Walsh was honored at the International Thespian Festival on Dec. 8, 2019.
This was the second year that New Jersey Thespians honored theatre educators across the state for their commitment to theatre education. Kirstin has been a member of the state board for more than 10 years. Kirstin has served as the GCIT Thespian Troupe 5480 troupe director since its inception in 1996, the same time she began as a teacher at GCIT. Kirstin was nominated for her dedication to the students of GCIT, always putting her students before herself.
In addition to teaching and directing the program at GCIT, she also is the Outreach Co-Chair for NJ Thespians, advisor for GCIT’s Thespian Troupe 5480, and founder of ACTing Out. ACTing Out is a touring company in which students write and produce shows based upon issues such as domestic violence, racism and mental health awareness. She holds a BA in Theatre from Rowan University and prior to her position at GCIT, worked in NYC as an actress, director and teaching artist.
Lynch-Walsh said, “It’s hard to put into words the answer to the question of why I am thankful for theatre because truthfully it is more about a feeling. The feeling 6-year-old me experienced for the first time when I realized I might actually be good at something. Or the mind blowing experience 12-year-old me had when seeing a show that challenged the status quo. The inspiration I received studying theatre in college to travel the world and learn from other cultures and places. And now the immense pride I feel when my students and I start with a germ of an idea and work our butts off energizing and inspiring each other to create something different, something palpable… well for all of that and so much more I am truly grateful.”
New Jersey Thespians serves as the state’s premier arts honor society, holding a festival in Robbinsville each year for the high school students and in Toms River for the junior high school students. New Jersey has one of the fastest growing Junior Thespian chapters, doubling in size for each of the last two years. New Jersey also has both high school and junior high school thespian officers.