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Interview with Starke County Native Jerry Foust

As part of my series on creative people from Starke County, Indiana, I interviewed my cousin, Jerry Foust. I wanted to first give some background for my readers. Jerry was born and raised in Starke County, IN. This county is a rural community whose major industry is, you guessed it, corn. It's not really what you would consider the most conducive area for those with the arts in mind as they pursue their career goals. Jerry happens to be one of the people who went against the grain and turned his interest in music into something more than a hobby. As a personal side note, I'd like to add that I may be a bit overly impressed by this due to the fact that I have no musical talent at all and have great admiration for those that do. But, I can type. That counts for something, right? And...on with the first part of the interview.

KF (Kathy Foust): Jerry, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. Let's start off by giving the readers some basics. What is your current position?
JF (Jerry Foust): "I am the Executive Director and Director of Education at Berkeley Playhouse, the resident company of the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. I've also served as lead producer, and have directed shows and taught adult workshops in music, theatre, and audition skills at the same organization."

KF: What degrees do you hold?
JF: "Bachelor's in Music Education (all grades) from Butler University; Master's in Postsecondary Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. Currently finishing a second Master's in Music Education at Stephen F. Austin State University."

KF: I've heard that you'll be moving soon. What will your position be then and what do you hope to accomplish in this position?
JF: "I don't know yet!!! Unlike me, I decided I wanted to move, regardless of having a job in place. I'm moving back to Chicago to be closer to my family, and enjoy those frigid temps and piles of snow (ha). I'm a finalist in two fantastic jobs where I get to keep being creative and working to grow programs, but I don't want to jinx it, so I'll keep you in suspense for another week or two until I know for sure."

KF: Many families follow along a traditional career path and tend to keep in a similar trade. How hard was it for you to make the decision to break away and follow a completely different career path than those before you?
JF: "For me, there was never any doubt about 1 - going to college, and 2 - leaving the small town I grew up in. I knew from the days you and I were playing school together in elementary school that I wanted to be a teacher. In high school, I fell in love with band, and so I decided to pursue music teaching. That's after I had decided to be a funeral director and a corporate communications specialist. I was accepted at Butler as a communications major, then in July 1989, decided to audition for music school. 

I could never have followed in my dad's footsteps - to be honest, I don't have the nerve, strength, or stamina to do what he does. I respect it more and more all the time. Building houses - literally from the ground up - is his profession. I am grateful to both my parents for working hard to provide for us, and allowing me to do what I dreamed."
KF: Along those same lines, who was your inspiration as you were growing up and making the decision to follow along this career path?
JF: "I was inspired by great teachers, I suppose. I was inspired by my high school band director, whose philosophy and style I could not be more different than now - I am much more of a musical purist, and not at all about competition (which is what a lot of Indiana band directors use to motivate students). But he was a great model in terms of showing how to bring pride back to our organization, and how to build it. I've continued to be attracted to building programs and organizations."
Tomorrow we'll learn more about Jerry as he speaks out about the role of music in education.

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