Study with the best teachers in the country at Alabama School of Fine Arts—apply now

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ASFA teachers
ASFA Teachers on stage. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

If you’re looking for a nurturing and challenging environment for your rising 7-11 grader, you need to know about Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA). This public, tuition-free magnet school is accepting applications from across the state of Alabama for the 2022-23 school year now.

First, a little bit about ASFA

I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously inspired.

The school offers six specialty areas + academics for all

French teacher at ASFA
Katie Gordon started AP French at ASFA. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

In addition to their specialty area, all students take a college-preparatory core curriculum that prepares them for the advanced Alabama diploma. 

The student body is made up of 350 diverse students from across the state. In addition to having day students, ASFA offers boarding for students from out of town. 

Know you want to go? Apply now.

We interviewed six of ASFA’s many world-class teachers

ASFA teacher
Ashley M. Jones, Poet Laureate of Alabama with her book Reparations Now. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Ashley M. Jones: Creative Writing

This ASFA creative writing alum is an award-winning poet and was recently named Alabama’s newest poet laureate. Find her on her website, Magic City Poetry Festival’s website and Instagram.

Wes Chapman: Dance

This ASFA dance alum is a former American Ballet Theater principal, former Alabama Ballet director, and he stages a Nutcracker in Costa Rica. Find him on YouTubeTwitter.

Hungsin Chin: Math-Science

Originally from Malaysia, she came to the US for higher education and serves as chair of ASFA’s Math-Science department.

Wes Chapman, ASFA
Wes Chapman in the dance studio. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Kim Scott (Strickland): Music

This ASFA music alum has been named a #1 Billboard smooth jazz artist, has her own internationally syndicated radio show, tours and has her fifth album coming out soon. She’s also Director of ASFA’s Student Support Services and teaches a flute studio. Here’s where you’ll find her: Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube + YouTube.

John Manzelli: Theatre Arts

Manzelli is an award-winning actor who’s a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, and has portrayed numerous roles on stage and screen. He added musical theater to ASFA’s curriculum and serves as director of ASFA’s Dorothy Jemison Day Theater. He created an award-winning film series during the pandemic and is currently creating another new performance series.

Katie McDowell Gordon: French

This ASFA dance alum is a French teacher who started Advanced Placement (AP) French at the school.

With such a rock-star lineup, we were eager to learn more. 

Bham Now: What do you love about ASFA?

Kim Scott
Kim Scott on stage. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Ashley M. Jones: Creative Writing

Teaching at ASFA is a dream—I’m able to share my passion for writing with brilliant and inspiring students, and I’m supported, wholeheartedly, by my colleagues and administration in my own writing career. 

ASFA values art, and that spirit of curiosity, artistic exploration, and camaraderie is what anyone would want in a workplace. And the students are truly incredible—it’s a joy to interact with them each day!”

Wes Chapman: Dance

Our focus at ASFA is giving dancers the full experience, not just in classical ballet. We just have this extraordinary staff that brings so much to the table—hip hop, modern, improvisation, choreography. We’re not trying to get kids into the major companies right away. We’re trying to get them into some of the best schools so that they have a better opportunity later.”

Hungsin Chin: Math-Science

I love the diversity of our community—where we respect each other’s individuality, uniqueness and talents. We also have many opportunities to grow in our professional talents. 

I have been working at ASFA for over 20 years, and I still enjoy watching all the various fine arts performances, shows, and readings from our students and faculty.”

ASFA sets
John Manzelli in the set room. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Kim Scott (Strickland): Music

“I love working with ASFA’s brilliant students! They remind me of myself in their passion for learning and the arts. I spent 19 years in the music department at ASFA, and 14 of those years I was Chair of that department.  

There is so much fulfillment in sharing knowledge and professional experiences with young people who desire to make careers in the arts as I have. The creative energy in our building is magnetic!”

John Manzelli: Theatre Arts

There’s a spirit and energy in this school that is hard to explain or match. The community of ASFA is a real thing. It’s fun to come to work.”

Katie Gordon: French

ASFA is an open and inviting place, and that’s because of the people. The students and everyone on faculty… they’re just cool.”

The last word

Math Science
Hungsin Chin is Chair of Math-Science at ASFA. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

“I want people to know the magic of ASFA! Like Disney, it’s the place where dreams come true for so many students.” 

Scott

“The Math & Science Program is a unique little gem, very well equipped to train and nurture any student who has a passion to learn and grow as an explorer and innovator while solving any global issues or problems.” 

Chin

“Come to an open house! Check out a performance! There’s a whole ASFA to experience—the specialty departments, the core academics, and best of all—the people!”

Gordon

Apply now for rising 7-11 graders. Follow ASFA on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube or visit their website to learn more.

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Sharron Swain
Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference
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