Last summer, after a robust national search, experienced arts executive and educator Maria Mathieson began her position as the new director of the Peabody Preparatory. As director, she leads Baltimore’s premier community school for the performing arts, overseeing all aspects of operations and instruction for about 2,000 students.
Reflecting on her first few months at Peabody, she says, “The Preparatory is a real gem, and it’s a privilege to be a part of the legacy of this amazing institution.”
A native of Scotland, Mathieson came to Peabody from Levine Music in Washington, D.C., where she served as the head of music education since 2011, a role that involved developing and leading Levine’s overall educational experience. Mathieson’s background also includes teaching and leading music programs as well as man- aging public relations and fundraising for The Salvation Army in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. She holds an MBA from the University of Maryland University College and has trained with the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute in New York.
Mathieson says that the Peabody leadership has “set a clear vision and tone for the Conservatory, and I’m looking forward to taking that charge and reflecting that within the Preparatory.”
“Springboarding from the work the Conservatory completed on the Breakthrough Plan and Curriculum,” she continues, “I want to dive into what the training of young 21st-century artists means for the Preparatory. Working alongside faculty, staff, and students to internalize what the Five Pillars represent for us, [we can] then begin work on integrating those concepts into our programming and curriculum.”
She hopes to engage families, students, and faculty in that thought process and then focus on enhancing programming and growing the Preparatory’s adult population of lifelong learners.
She also intends to enrich the Preparatory education with technology — “using the tools our students already utilize into their classrooms and taking that into the music and dance forum.” Mathieson, who has often found ways to integrate technology into her work, says, “I like trying to figure how we can use technology to enhance learning through a medium of today’s culture.”
It’s important, she believes, for the Preparatory to recognize that today’s students live in a digital space.
“They’re digital natives,” she says, “and have never known life without a smart phone. We have to be able to adapt to the way our students are learning today.”
“The Peabody Preparatory is entering an exciting period of growth, in both on-site and digital platforms, and Maria’s expertise in — and passion for — arts education and administration are exactly what we need in a leader,” notes Abra Bush, the Peabody Institute’s senior associate dean of institute studies.
— Margaret Bell