Our History

The story began in a local church in the year 2000. Under the helm of the interim music director, Nina Markle, and the children’s director, Dawn Cooke, a small summer theatre program for children was developed. The program grew to include youth from the community and was renamed the Children’s Community Theatre. Word spread of the great achievements of the children, and increasing demand drove the program to constantly outgrow its space. As a result, the Performing Arts Academy, as we are known today, has moved ten times over the past 15 years. Each move was prompted by the need to find a home that would accommodate our ever-increasing number of students, programs and performances.

Today, the Performing Arts Academy has grown from a handful of children to a program that now produces 12 annual theatre productions, dance classes for all ages and offers private music lessons year-round to more than 290 young people and adults. We have evolved from two renowned music specialists offering instruction in theatre, voice and piano to 18 outstanding instructors in voice, piano, woodwinds, percussion, brass, strings, and theatre. We have blossomed from serving students from only the Middletown area to include students from 13 surrounding communities.

The Performing Arts Academy gives children a bright future by instilling these characteristics:

  • Confidence
  • Acting Abilities
  • Public Speaking
  • Leadership & Teamwork
  • Creative Thinking

Our Staff

Nina Markle
Nina MarkleExecutive Director
A retired music specialist, Nina taught 31 years in the public schools and one year at Miami University, Middletown. Nina graduated with a BS in Music with a major in voice and has her Masters in voice performance. She studied at Asbury College, Morris Harvey College, Miami University and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Nina has performed leading roles in musical theatre as well as opera.
Dawn Cooke
Dawn CookeAssistant Director
Dawn is an accomplished pianist, accompanist and clarinetist. She served eight years as a Children’s Ministry Director at the University Baptist Church, and has been a Reading First tutor and substitute teacher in the Middletown City Schools. She has her BS in Elementary Education from Miami University.