CEO, Camp Director
Hi! I'm Joanne Link. I run a summer camp where kids can pick their own schedules and every project culminates in a Broadway junior musical. I've been teaching music for 25 years and am a certified K-12 teacher in NJ and PA. I now invent arts education programming. At Mindsteward Kids Theater, I love weaving as many gifts and skills of teachers, interns, and campers into a creative, 2-week long, living art project where everyone grows. Have a musical day!
My first official job was working in South Brunswick Public Schools as a String Specialist. My job was to start string programs in 3 elementary schools, which quickly expanded to 4, and then 5 schools. I was in a new school every day and managed to recruit over 300 beginner violin students and my days of creating music education platforms began. To this day that school program has expanded and it took 3 music teachers to replace the position I was assigned to create.
If we back up a little to before earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, when I was 16 I put up a flyer at my parent’s farm market and taught my first little piano and violin students. I held bi-annual recitals, parties, and weekly lessons. It was a fun little group, I kept going through summers and breaks in college, and upon graduation I had a bustling studio of 35 students, which several are now music teachers, music therapists, doctors, scientists, business owners, and a whole host of other beautiful careers that flourished throughout their lives.
When a job opened up in my home town, I resigned from South Brunswick and took a High School band director position at Matawan Regional School District with an unsettling prognosis for the former band director. I have learned over time to carefully work with students who are hurting and going through trials, and draw their eyes and ears to music and how it can help themselves and help others, no matter what you intend to study. It fills a void in the mind that many other activities leave open. In the same job position, I took on a position as the pit orchestra director for Hello Dolly and Fame the Musical and I was hooked. Not much else could make time fly and magic happen in the realm of music education for me.
Upon getting married, I dedicated myself to finding jobs and my place as I followed the path of my husband’s career in the greater Philadelphia area. I left the studio I built and the home-town school district and took a year to explore the stage. I was in 12 shows in a year, backstage, onstage, directing, music directing, helping, and taking voice lessons. Plays and Players, Swarthmore Community Theater, Rose Valley Chorus and Orchestra, an Opera Company, a handful of Piano students, and Upper Darby Summer Stage.
As this lifestyle did not lend itself to a great schedule, I took a job opening up a DSW shoe store and one day I helped a lady pick out shoes. I got into conversation and her and upon hearing she was a teacher, casually said “I used to teach.” This kind teacher drew me out and mentioned an orchestra director position at Marple Newotwn School District. Within 2 weeks I applied, got the job, and started working. Directing an orchestra of 100+ students, which is now led by a former student from that original orchestra, was a dream job. I also had the opportunity to inspire the musical theater program as a Pit Orchestra Director, and then moving on to Direct Seussical the Musical and Beauty and the Beast to sold-out audiences. 2000+ people came to see each run. The Beast transformed in the air and I worked with an amazing group of people who brought stage-magic to life.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was given the greatest teaching job of all time, a lifelong position as “mom” to our two children. Beauty and the Beast was Naomi’s first show at 6 days old and my new “musical productions” were birthday parties and playdates. When each one was 4 we began Suzuki lessons in an instrument according to which teacher worked best with each kid. I learned incredible things from observing the lessons of Barb Lambdin and Barb Lewis who modeled excellent Suzuki training to my children. Reflecting back on my 100-piece orchestra in Marple Newtown, the best players started when they were 4 with the Suzuki method and were the same kids to win all the academic awards. I would often think: there must be something to that! I went on to get my certificates in Suzuki Book 1-3 and taking our kids to annual Pennsylvania Suzuki Institutes run by the fabulous Jennifer Jackson Lewis and family.
Our family settled in the Harrisburg Area for 9 fruitful and enriching years. We met amazing people and teachers, and life-long friends. As I continued to run into teachers and skilled artists, I continued to create programs where they could teach and kids could learn. Our home was always filled with music, music teachers, and tiny kids learning twinkles. We ran these programs all under the Mind Steward LLC umbrella company and continued to create. One year we started a summer camp, called it Summer Arts Camp, STEAM camp, until Sarah McCarroll named Mindsteward Kids Theater: The Complete Theater Experience.
Anything that has been done through Mind Steward has been a work of art and faith by numerous artists and educators. I intend to be the glue and the magnet, to help draw out gifting of students and gifting of teachers, helping each one to see the beauty and skill in each mind, including his/her own.
When you join us at Mind Steward, you join our living breathing art-work of a company, one that is creating in the background so minds can be stewarded in the foreground. After a lifelong drive to sing, play, and create, scientific findings are resonating with my story. Music and art, in children and adults creates more brain synapses. If you study the brains from non-artists and non-musicians to artist and musicians, you can see for yourself.
So there it is - Why Mind Steward? We create programs so kids and adults can get the most out of their minds and not only create and enjoy art for art’s sake or music for music’s sake, but maximize potential in all disciplines for all ages.
Have a musical day!