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2019 Alumni Award Winners

Alumni Citation for Distinguished Professional Jim & BillAchievements

Bill Kincaid Jr. ’86

Bill Kincaid, Jr., your most impressive career in theatre is a point of pride for your alma mater as you’ve distinguished yourself as a director, teacher, author and mentor. While attending Wilmington College, you embraced hands-on learning opportunities in both theatre and music. You graduated in 1985 and went on to earn your Master of Fine Arts degree in acting and directing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

You began your professional directing career with Theatre Works in Sarasota and continued as a musical director and workshop faculty member at the renowned Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. There, you worked with such notable actors as Julie Harris, Christopher Walken, Christopher Reeve, Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow.

You’ve taught at the University of California at Davis, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and, since 2003, at Western Illinois University, where you were promoted to full professor in 2008. Other outstanding contributions to theatre education have been manifested through your 14 years as a workshop leader for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and six years as the four-state regional coordinator of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions.

Among a number of seasonal directing positions, you returned to Wilmington College in the summer of 2013 to direct the College-Community Summer Theatre’s well-received production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

You’ve been an especially innovative teacher of theatre and are well-known for developing and teaching the “unrehearsed Shakespeare” performance technique at Western Illinois University and around the country. Indeed, last year you

published Performing Shakespeare Unrehearsed: A Practical Guide to Acting and Producing Spontaneous Shakespeare. For a time, your acclaimed book held the number one spots in’s categories for books on acting and new releases on theatre.

You have been recognized throughout your career with such honors as: the Award of Honor from the Illinois Theatre Association, the Faculty Service Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and you are a three-time recipient of the Classical Acting Coach Award from the National Partners of American Theatre. At Western Illinois University, you have received the Outstanding Creative Activity Award, Outstanding Teacher Award, Outstanding Service Award and, just this year, the Outstanding Scholarly/Professional Activity Award.

You’ve come a long way since playing the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland on the stage of Wilmington College’s Boyd Auditorium in 1973. Bill Kincaid, Jr., it is an honor to present you with the 2019 Alumni Citation for Distinguished Professional Achievements.

Alumni Citation for Distinguished Contributions to Bruce & DanEducation

Bruce Stewart ’69

Bruce Stewart, you literally changed countless numbers of young lives for the better throughout your exemplary career in education. You graduated from Wilmington College in 1969 with a major in psychology, and went on to earn a master’s degree from Wright State University in curriculum and instruction and followed that with studies in school administration at the University of Dayton.

You started your career as a special education teacher at Graham Local Schools and subsequently took on the positions of Special Education Director and Assistant Superintendent for Champaign County, Superintendent of Southeastern Local Schools and Clark County Superintendent.

You’ve described your position of special education teacher as “the most rewarding job I ever had.” When you arrived at Graham Schools following your WC graduation, mainstream teachers would not take your students, so you taught them music, physical education and even art, the latter of which you learned from taking classes in the evening. You felt your students were stigmatized by the label “EMR,” which the state used, so you demanded a more appropriate and less offensive title for your classroom. It soon became known as “Individually Prescribed Instruction,” which was soon accepted throughout all county schools.

You brought the real world into your classroom by inviting police, employers, grocers and bankers to speak to your class. You also brought your class into the real world through weekly trips to visit businesses. You felt that real world experience was so important for your students’ education that you turned your classroom into a grocery store, complete with boxes, signs, cans of food, advertised specials, a cash register and even real money from your own pocket. In

this setting, you taught about nutrition, meal preparation, budgeting money and shopping tips.

Your class set up a carwash company in which teachers could choose the desired service, such as a full wash, windows cleaned, carpets vacuumed. The student-run company sold shares, gave dividends and issued paychecks, which they deposited into their own bank accounts. Skills were learned every step of the way. You rewarded your students through such incentives as a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant with you. The wonder in their eyes was your reward for money well spent.

Your passionate and innovative work at Graham did not go unnoticed. You were asked to take on the position of special education director for all of Champaign County. There, you excelled at placing students with jobs that best matched their interests and aptitudes. From there, your career advanced to being named County Superintendent at age 35 and then, in 1984, you began an unprecedented 16 years as Superintendent of Southeastern Local Schools in Clark County. You finished your career in education in 2006 after six years as Clark County Superintendent.

Bruce Stewart, you have had an extraordinary career in education and your good work resonates throughout west central Ohio and beyond. Wilmington College is proud to present you with the 2019 Alumni Citation for Distinguished Contributions to Education.

John Frazier Award for Distinguished Volunteer ServiceJim and Martha

Martha Ventolo ’69

Martha Ventolo, Wilmington College’s mission speaks about preparing students for a life of service and success. You are an exemplar of our mission.

As a student at Wilmington College, you majored in history and graduated with a kindergarten through ninth grade teaching license. Your classmates might remember you on campus toting a camera to shoot College events for the yearbook. You continue to use those photography skills developed at WC. Your proud parents watched you graduate in 1969 as the first in your family to attend college.

That same year, you and other young mothers in the community of Enon lamented the loss of the town’s only pre-school — so you helped start a church-sponsored one and served as its founding director for the next 45 years. You’ve held a deep interest in the early education of young children as a means for preparing them for entry into formal schooling in kindergarten and the early elementary grades.

You have been a long-time active member the National Association for the Education of Young Children and served on both the Governing Board and Leadership Council of the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children. The latter organization named you its 2001 Administrator-of-the-Year. Also, you presented workshops for the Midwest Association of Young Children and held top leadership positions with the Clark, Greene, Champaign County Association for Young Children. You also are a member of the Clark County Early Childhood Advisory Board and Dayton Association for Young Children. Does anyone notice a recurring theme?

Complementing your long-time work in leading the Enon United Methodist Preschool for 45 years, you served on the part-time staff of the Green County Career Center and were a substitute teacher with the Mad River and Greenon Schools.

Your volunteer work also far exceeds your considerable service in the aforementioned positions and associations. You’ve served your church in numerous capacities. Soon after your husband, Joseph, began working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum, you began volunteering there, using your skills as a photographer and videographer to document the life of this extraordinary museum. Your more than 5,000 volunteer hours over 38 years were recognized when you — out of more than 600 volunteers — received one of nine 2018 Volunteer-of the-Year awards. Your community-minded volunteerism also features service as a licensed General Class Amateur Radio operator for more than 40 years and a life member of the Enon Community Historical Society.

In 2014, you were selected as the Enon Citizen-of-the-Year and today, Marti Ventolo, Wilmington College is honoring you with the John Frazier Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service.