Bucyrus Ohio, where I grew up, hasn't ever been a super conducive environment to create art of any kind. But knowing that never prevent me from trying. As soon as I was able, I started getting involved in my school's theatre productions and that's when it became clear to me just how poorly our arts were funded. We didn't have proper lighting equipment, our sets were just the same pieces of plywood painted over again and again and again and I'm thoroughly convinced that the last time we bought a new can of paint was sometime circa-1990. Nevertheless, I was never happier than when I was on stage.

Until my Sophomore year that is, when our drama department put on a particularly trying production of Edgar Lee Masters's "Spoon River Anthology." After that show, for many different reasons, the magic of the theater was lost for me. I even went as far as to say I wouldn't do theater ever again for the rest of my high school career.

Then, in comes a new director.

As I've told her before, I had no intentions of auditioning for another show for the remainder of high school. I just couldn't help my curiosity on the day of auditions and I found myself back in the auditorium just to see who they got to replace our former director. I was met with the bright, smiling face of a woman who seemed eager to get things rolling. She introduced herself as Lindsey Rowland and something about the kindness and energy she was radiating made me pick up the sides and audition. (Which, by far was one of the best decisions I had ever made.)

I was cast as Mrs. Savage in our production of 'The Curious Savage' soon after the auditions and we got to work! Working with Lindsey Rowland-Now Lindsey Funtik was an experience like no other. She took the time to ask us questions that were vital to the performance, we dove deep into character motivations, their thoughts, their feelings and experiences, all things I had never done before. It had been read the script and do the show up and to this point. I had never worked with anyone who had ever asked the question of "Why" with so much genuine interest. The simple act of wanting to really know about our characters and the world around them made me a much more developed actor and I am forever thankful to her for teaching me how to create better-developed art.

But more than teaching me invaluable skills that have helped me to become a better actor and director, I want to say thank you for being one of the kindest, genuine, most caring and hard-working women I've ever known. I know everyone says that their friends are the hardest workers they know but in the case of Lindsey Funtik, it's true. I've never known anyone as dedicated as her. The amount of times we sat in the auditorium until the wee hours of the night talking about staging, sets, lighting and everything else just speaks to that.

But most impressive to me was the way that she could conduct herself with nothing but kindness and genuine feelings no matter the kind of things she was going through or how well things were or weren't going that day. She always made sure that we had a positive, accepting, affirming space to simply be, and beyond all of the theatrical skills she taught me, it is that that I am most thankful for. She rekindled my love for theater and I can't thank her enough!

I know thank you doesn't cut it but thank you, Lindsey! Thank you, thank you, thank you!