Adult State Board
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Mrs. Carolyn Little, Toms River High School North

New Jersey State Director

Carolyn Little is the New Jersey Chapter Director of the Educational Theatre Association. She has a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Human Services and a concentration in Secondary Education from Montclair State University. She recently completed her master’s degree in Higher Education: Leadership for Student Success from Walden University. She currently teaches English at Toms River High School North in Toms River, NJ. She also runs the after school theatre program which includes the musical, a spring show and the International Thespian Society Troupe #7455. Contact Carolyn at

Mrs. Valerie Gargus, Northern Burlington High School

Festival Director

Mrs. Valerie Gargus is the Festival Director for the State Thespian Board of Directors. She loves the challenge of making sure everyone has time to do all they want to do at the festival!  Mrs. Gargus has recently retired from Northern Burlington County Regional High School (Troupe 4762) where she had taught theatre and directed plays and musicals since 1980.  She has a BA in Drama from William Paterson University and an M.A. in Teaching Speech & Theatre from Montclair University.  She received her school’s Educator of the Year Award in 2015, the NJ Governor’s Award in the Arts for Outstanding Speech & Theatre Teacher in 2008, the Best Practice award from the New Jersey State Department of Education for her Directing a Play course in 2002, and the Outstanding NJ Thespian Director in 1999.

Mrs. Angela Corenblith, Retired Lakewood High School

Judge Coordinator

Angela Corenblith is the Judge Coordinator for the Festival and a Thespian since her high school days! She retired from Lakewood High School (troupe #6118) in 2012.While at Lakewood she was the drama/musical director and choreographer teaching Performing Arts and English. She is currently the Director/Owner of Lakewood School of Dance and Theatre Arts (celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year!!).


Mrs. Kirstin Lynch-Walsh, Gloucester County Institute of Technology

Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS Coordinator

Kirstin Lynch-Walsh proudly serves as the thespian adviser for Gloucester County Institute of Technology’s troupe 5480. Along with teaching and directing at GCIT's School of Performing Arts for the past 16 years, she also founded ACTing Out, a touring company in which students write and produce shows based upon issues such as domestic violence, racism. mental health awareness etc.  She holds a BA in Theatre from Rowan University and prior to her position at GCIT, worked in NYC as an actress, director and teaching artist.

Mr. Zachary Bates, Gloucester County Institute of Technology


Zach Bates is ecstatic to be apart of the Adult State Board. Zach is a graduate of the Gloucester County Institute of Technology and Troupe 5480 where he works alongside his former director, Kristin Lynch Walsh.  Zach is a one-one-one teachers assistant at the Bankbridge Development Center as well as serving as the Senior Night advisor at GCIT. Zach has also done play-by-play and color commentary work for the Gloucester County Educational Network.  He is a 2013 graduate of GCIT from the school's Drama Academy. While at GCIT, Zach was a manager for the cross country team and the public address announcer for girls' basketball all through high school. He was also involved widely throughout the school as a member of the International Thespian Society, SkillsUSA, Student Government and #SeniorNight, a program that Zach and three other students developed with the help of two teachers. Zach is a national Gold medal winner in SkillsUSA for advocating for suicide and mental health awareness.

In his free time, Zach covers high school sports starting in October of 2012. Zach has been the cross country beat writer since the fall of 2013.

He is currently attending Rowan College at Gloucester County in pursuit of a special education and history degree.

Zach was born and raised in South Jersey and enjoys cheering on the Phillies and Eagles in his spare time.

Mr. Scott F. Cooney, BCIT Medford Academy of Performing Arts

Webmaster, Tab Room Coordinator, Awards Coordinator

Scott F. Cooney is an acting and theatre instructor at BCIT Medford’s Academy of Performing Arts. He help found and charter ITS Troupe #7891 and is an Honorary Thespian of Troupe #4762.  He has been coaching and teaching acting for over ten years and is always trying to better himself both as an instructor and an artist.  He is the 2015 Foxy Award recipient for Outstanding Direction of a Play for his original immersive theatre adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet, which also received the 2015 Foxy Award for Best Classical Play.  Mr. Cooney is excited to be on the State Board and is looking forward to another successful year.    

Ms. Crystal Swancey, Toms River High School North

Assistant Judge’s Coordinator

Hello I am Crystal Swancey, this will be my first year on the State Board and I am very excited for the adventure.  I am currently an English teacher at Toms River High School North, for the last 8 years.   I became involved in theater in 2010, as the Costume Mistress, for our schools production of Aida.  Aida will always be my favorite show, because I know it was held together with a lot of love and hot glue.  Since, becoming involved with the Nautical Stars (TRN's Theatre Department) I have gone on to work on Gypsy, Xanadu, Legally Blonde and this year 9 to 5.  PS-I've been told I am totally Elle Woods.  Last year, I also took on the responsibility of being the Co-Advisor of our Thespian Troupe along with Carolyn Little.  Besides, working in the theater department at our school I am also the Co-Advisor of the Class of 2019.  Outside of school, I am involved with the local fire department in Beachwood, where I am President of the Auxiliary and a long time member.  Besides working at school, I totally enjoy long walks on the beach, ice cream, cooking, gardening (except for the bugs that attack me) and I am also a self proclaimed history dork (I love to visit Colonial Williamsburg).

Mrs. Alison Sussman, Robbinsville High School

Workshop, College, Vendor, and Facilities Coordinator

Alison Sussman received her degree in Theatre Arts from Drew University. After leaving school, she worked at George Street Playhouse (GSP) as the Associate Director of Education and Outreach where, among her many other duties, she coordinated (and often taught) the theatre classes and summer camps. She has been teaching theatre and English in New Jersey public schools since she left GSP in 2001. In addition to directing plays and the drama program at her school, she has created numerous theatre workshop, festival, and performance opportunities for students. She is the founder and director of Fellowship of the Ravens (FOTR), a non-profit theatre troupe from Robbinsville, NJ, educating teenagers in theatre production and performance. In August of 2014, Mrs. Sussman commissioned and directed a new play with FOTR which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; she has been invited to return with the company in 2017. Mrs. Sussman was Robbinsville School District Teacher of the Year in 2008 and the Mercer County Teacher of the Year in 2009.

Ms. Veda Rouze

Junior Thespian Coordinator

Veda Rouze is an alumnus of the STO board, and she is a recent graduate from OCVTS Performing Arts Academy. She is truly thrilled to be working on the state board again with her fellow thespians. Veda took a gap year between high school and college to pursue the arts. She absolutely adores directing experimental theatre. Her recent directing credits include No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre and Bread and Butter by Mary Kelly. Aside from directing, Veda plays the saxophone, enjoys oil painting, and likes practicing magic tricks. In the future, Veda hopes to run her own experimental theater company. Veda cannot wait for the upcoming thespian festival!

Mr. Jason Wylie

Student Board Coordinator

Alumni Coordinator


Jason has been a member of the NJ State Thespian Board of Directors for 5 years. Being an alumus of the STO Board, he now serves at the coordinator of that board as well as the festival alumni volunteers. He is currently attending Rowan University as a Technical Theatre and Theatre Education Major. He is the NJDFL Coach and Musical Costumer at Northern Burlington Co. Reg. HS. Jason is the webmaster and college fair coordinator for the New Jersey Drama and Forensics League. He is an Alumus of Northern Burlington where he served as the President of Thespian Troupe 4762.

Mr. Tallen Olsen, Hightstown High School

Secretary of NJ Thespians State Board

Mr. Tallen Olsen, Secretary of the NJ Thespians Adult State Board, is excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve our state thespian troupes and student actors in this capacity.  Mr. Olsen is the Choral Music and Theatre Educator and Director at Hightstown High School in Hightstown, NJ and proud advisor of ITS Troupe #3991.  Since his arrival at Hightstown HS, he has incorporated Theatre and Musical Theatre Performance courses into the elective curriculum and now has both beginning and advanced courses in the performing arts.  Mr. Olsen has studied Operatic Vocal Music, Choral Music Education and also has a BFA from Elon University, Majoring in Musical Theatre Performance and a M.Ed. from Rowan University. He is currently entering his 12th year of teaching in the great state of NJ.  Mr. Olsen is also a proud member of NATS, the National Association of Teachers of Singing; ACDA, the American Choral Directors Association, NAfME, National Association of Music Educators, and the NJMEA.

Sarah Osman

Membership Chair

Sarah Osman is elated to begin working with the NJ Thespian Adult State Board as the Membership Chair! She currently attends Ocean County College with the NJSTARS program as a Performing Arts major. She is a recent graduate of the OCVTS: Performing Arts Academy where she studied as an acting major and served as the president of, and is now a proud alumni of Troupe # 6185. Her ITS achievements include performing in Chapter Select and International Freestyle Theater, and ranking ‘Superior’ at states for Group Acting, Dramatic Monologue, and ranking ‘Internationally Superior’ twice for Contrasting Monologues. In 2017 she received a Montclair Theatre Night ‘Foxy’ Award for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress in a Comedy for her portrayal of Sabina in ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’. Now being apart of the State Board, Sarah aims to have every troupe be involved and be ‘the best troupe ever’ so the New Jersey Chapter can continue to grow and flourish! She wishes to enhance experiences and have everyone involved with the International Thespian Society feel the same way she does- proud to be a thespian!