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From OHIO Eastern to center stage: Alumni team up to direct 'Mamma Mia' at Harrison Central High School

Two of Ohio University Eastern’s distinguished alumni, Ashley Doren and Bailie Ray, have come full circle in their careers and are now co-directing the upcoming high school musical production of "Mamma Mia" at Harrison Central High School.

Doren gained valuable experiences throughout her time at OHIO Eastern and OHIO's Athens campus that prepared her for a career in education. 

Currently serving as the school counselor and musical theater director at Harrison Central High School, Doren attributes her success to earning her master’s degree in counselor education from Ohio University. Doren embarked on her academic journey at Ohio University Eastern, where she spent her first two years focusing on psychology before completing her undergraduate studies. 

“Ohio University makes it easy to create an undergraduate degree that caters to your needs,” said Doren. “The master’s degree programs at Ohio University are designed to help students who work and who want to earn degrees and licensures. I had the opportunity to become licensed in both clinical mental health and school counseling.” 

Reflecting on her career, she emphasized, "My master’s degree in counselor education from Ohio University has set me up for success. During my time as an Ohio University student, I had the opportunity to work as graduate assistant, a substitute teacher and attended courses in the evening. I believe professors at Ohio University are dedicated to helping students succeed and are willing to help students get their goals met regardless of barriers.”

Doren's journey from Ohio University Eastern to her current roles exemplifies the transformative impact of education, showcasing how a supportive academic environment can propel individuals toward fulfilling and impactful careers.

Ashley Doran and Bailie Ray
Ashley Doran and Bailie Ray

Ray, who earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, chose Ohio University Eastern for its flexibility, allowing her to pursue a quality education while coaching cheerleading and directing theater at Harrison Central. 

"I wanted to pursue a quality education while still being able to coach cheerleading and direct theatre at Harrison Central. OHIO Eastern provided me with the flexibility I needed in order to maintain all aspects of my education and career," Ray said. 

Ray, currently an intervention specialist at Harrison Central Elementary, credits OHIO Eastern Early Childhood and Elementary Education Program Professor Kim Ciroli for having a profound influence on her education.

“Professor Ciroli's ties to the community and continuous use of her own experiences to teach us were so impactful,” she said. “She never just read from a textbook or used verbatim notes. She made every single moment of every single class meaningful.”

Ciroli's approach also gave Ray a valuable opportunity to participate in experiential learning offerings.

“Professor Ciroli instructs students on the importance of incorporating experiential learning alongside academic coursework for a comprehensive educational experience,” said Ray.  “Classroom studies provide the foundation, but real-world experiences in the field enhance practical skills, deepen understanding, and foster a well-rounded perspective.” 

The significance of practical experiences became evident as Ciroli provided endless opportunities for Ray and her classmates to share stories and engage in discussions about their field placements.

“Professor Ciroli's teaching philosophy has stayed with me throughout my career,” said Ray. “It was in these discussions that I learned the most about how to actually teach and help students."

Both Doren and Ray share a passion for education and for the arts, evident in their collaboration as co-directors of the upcoming production of "Mamma Mia" at Harrison Central High School. The musical will run from March 15 to 17, with online ticket sales available on the school's website.

As they bring the magic of the stage to life, Doren and Ray inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact in their communities.

March 11, 2024
Staff reports