Inspiring Tomorrow's Readers Through Drama

Spark is a regional outreach program that seeks to support Read to Succeed and reading improvement efforts at Palmetto Literacy Project schools statewide through the effective use of elementary level drama strategies.

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Employment Opportunities

Program Highlights

Spark builds reading engagement, reading motivation, and creative/divergent thinking by helping students connect the actor's basic skill set (body, voice, imagination, cooperation & ensemble) to reading and storytelling.  

Partnering schools receive in-school classroom and group drama services, co-teaching and arts integration experiences, drama intensives during summer Read to Succeed camps, guest theatre artist visits, professional learning opportunities, and more. 


As part of the Governor's School's commitment to being a resource and research center, the Office of Outreach has contracted Dr. Peter Duffy (University of South Carolina) to investigate Spark's impact. In 2020, Spark's research methodology was recognized nationally with the Arts School's Network's Research Initiative - Institution Award.  

Arts Grow SC

Spark is a proud partnering agency of Arts Grow SC, a three year, statewide investment in arts education directed by the SC Arts Commission. Thanks to this commitment, the Governor's School will receive a $3.7 million grant to ensure there is no cost for partnering schools or school districts to participate.  


Thurayya UmBayemake, Lead Actor-Teacher

Thurayya is a graduate of South Carolina State University, Summa Cume Laude, with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and earned her Graduate Certificate in Public Administration Nonprofit Management from The University of Akron. Thurayya has over 5 years of experience serving her community in roles spanning from a Summer Counselor to Fundraising. Read more.

Chelsey Mack, Actor - Teacher (Midlands)

Chelsey Mack is a Charlotte NC native and recent Columbia SC implant. She graduated from South Carolina State University Summa Cum Laude  with a degree in Elementary Education. Chelsey has a musical theatre background that spans over 12 years. She most recently was a member of the Orangeburg Part-time Players at the  Blue Bird Theatre of Orangeburg SC . Read More

Lexi Melton, Actor - Teacher (Pee Dee)

Lexi Melton has been working with students of all ages in theatre and art for almost ten years now. She not only received training in scene painting via the cobalt studios method, she also assisted in a college level special effects makeup class. Melton has been very involved with her community theatre and in volunteering at the local high school, jumping into things such as choreography, lights, acting, and playwrighting. Read more.

Katie Mixon, Curriculum Specialist/Actor-Teacher (Midlands)


Katie Mixon is an Actor, Theatre Manager and Conservation Advocate.  Katie is a Company Member & Educator for South Carolina Shakespeare Company, Actor/Manager for Elsewhere Shakespeare in Richmond, Virginia and on the team who first brought Sappraiwan Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand to life.  Katie was the host and producer for Riverbanks Roundup, an animal education show filmed at Riverbanks Zoo. She was also a producer and co-host of Expeditions for SCETV. Read more.

Melissa McCrary, Training Coordinator/Actor-Teacher

Melissa McCrary is a native of Charlotte, NC and moved to South Carolina to attend Winthrop University where she earned her B.A. in Dance with a minor in Science, then completed her K-12 teaching certification.  She also holds a Master of Education degree in Education Administration from the University of South Carolina and is completing coursework toward her Educational Doctorate degree in Education Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Read more.


Carol Baker
Director of Outreach and Community Engagement

Spark is funded by Arts Grow SC, a partnership between the South Carolina Arts Commission and the South Carolina Department of Education.




Arts Grow


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