New Trackside program director spends first month preparing

Trackside Teen Center’s new program director Amy Nassef is settling in.
In her first month, she has introduced herself to officials with the Parks & Recreation Department, Middlebrook School, Wilton High School, the Wilton Historical Society and the Wilton Family YMCA.
But Nassef is doing more than shaking hands. She is working on a number of program initiatives for the upcoming school year, including classes, clubs and special events.
“We want an event every Friday night,” Nassef said.
She is considering movie nights, video game tournaments and dances for middle school students.
Nassef has already finished developing a baking class that teaches dessert making, a knitting class, a musical theater class and an acting class. She will be teaching the acting class.
Nassef is a resident of Fairfield and graduate of Fairfield High School (now named Fairfield Warde High School), and she has had a lifelong interest in theatrical performance dating to before her high school days.
“I’ve been into theater since I was a kid,” she said, “though I didn’t become involved with performance or production until my freshman year at Fairfield High,” she added.
“I performed in school musicals and plays and attended the Regional Center for the Arts program (RCA) in Bridgeport. I acted in college, too,” Nassef said.
Previous to her role as program director at Trackside, Nassef worked as program coordinator for the Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, where she directed Project Broadway, a summer theater program, and assisted with the Playhouse Greenhouse theater education program.
She has experience as a spotlight operator and stage manger, as well as with costuming and scene shifting, or the process of changing on-stage locales during a play.
Some of the productions she has worked on are The Rocky Horror Show, The Full Monty and Hairspray.
Though she considers herself a William Shakespeare fan above all else, Nassef said she saw Arthur Miller’s The Crucible while in London and was thoroughly moved by the performance — moved to a point where she is now considering it for a Trackside production.
“It made a really strong impression on me,” she said. “I actually would like to produce that here at Trackside. There’s perfect space in the barn out back. When we expand our theater program, that would be great, because the meeting houses in The Crucible look just like our barn.”

A program apart

Nassef feels one of her upcoming initiatives stands out from the rest.
She is working on a club in which students will create projects to support animal shelters.
Her first idea is to help them build “make-it-yourself” dog beds out of recycled materials like old clothes and blankets.

Working with kids

Nassef earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Western Connecticut State University, and while she could have pursued a more history-oriented career, she instead chose a different path.
“I really enjoy working with kids,” she said, “so I chose to continue working in the nonprofit sector instead of pursuing a career in history.”
“While theater and history are my passions,” she continued, “I believe it’s important to help students nurture their own unique talents and forge a path that will lead to a successful and happy future. I want to provide an opportunity for students to explore their talents and share their gifts with the community.”
Nassef believes in Trackside. She considers it a beneficial service to the town of Wilton and hopes students will avail themselves of that service.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s a great asset to the town. I really hope students take advantage of what we have to offer here,” Nassef said.
The Trackside Teen Center serves Wilton students in grades six through 12.