Faculty

JOHN PIERSON
Department Chair, Classroom Instructor, Director

John Pierson has worked as a professional performer and teacher for more than 25 years. As an actor he has been seen nationwide in a touring production of Mass Appeal. St. Louis work includes: A Beckoning Torch and Controlled Cool at Historyonics; The Baby Dance at Hothouse; I Am a Man and Raisin at The Black Rep; The Water Children at The New Theatre; Hearts and Sabina at New Jewish Theatre; Fool for Love at Muddy Waters; Hellcab and Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune at Spotlight Theatre; Art at Ozark Actors Theatre; Permanent Collection, The Scene, Neighborhood 3 - Requisition of Doom, and Oleanna at HotCity; Back of the Throat, Love Song, Closer, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Art and Seminar at St. Louis Actors’ Studio; and Blood Knot at Upstream. He has originated roles in two world premieres:  Conversations on a Dirt Road at The Black Rep, and Loving Leah at New Jewish Theatre. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's year-end theatre awards acknowledged him in the Best Supporting Actor category for 1998 and in the Best Actor category for 1999. He won the 2008 Kevin Kline award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for The Late Henry Moss, and was nominated for the 2011 Kevin Kline award for Outstanding Lead Actor for Closer, both at St. Louis Actors Studio. As a director, he has workshopped several new plays as a part of HotCity Theatre’s Greenhouse Festival, and for the LaBute New Theater Festival (both in St. Louis and in Off Broadway in NYC) he has directed several premieres; including Kandahar and Life Model, both by Neil LaBute. He also is a member of the festival selection committee. He also works in independent films, commercials, industrials and as a voice-over performer and is long-standing member of Actors' Equity Association, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Screen Actors Guild. As a teacher, Pierson is the former head of the drama program at the Indian Mountain School in Connecticut. He has taught in the Theatre and English and departments at Burroughs since 1993. His numerous JBS directing credits include the 2009 world premiere of Intelligent Life. Pierson earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from The College of Wooster and received his professional acting training at Circle in the Square in New York.

DREW BATTLES
Classroom Instructor, Director

Drew Battles joined the Burroughs faculty in 2014. He teaches theatre and speech and directs the musical and seventh and eighth grade play. Battles came to Burroughs with a wealth of teaching and performance experience. Most recently he worked as the education coordinator for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, where he directed an adaptation of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V (Family of Kings) for the 2014 SFSTL Education Tour. At SFSTL, Battles also acted in the Mainstage productions of Henry IV and V and the Shakespeare in the Streets production of Old Hearts Fresh. Other teaching credits include adjunct lecturer in Theatre Arts at Louisiana State University; adjunct lecturer in Theatre Arts at Baton Rouge Community College; head of HS/MS Theatre Department at Math, Science and Arts Academy, West (Plaquemine, LA); teaching artist for Playmakers Children’s Theatre of Baton Rouge; and teaching artist/performer for Trinity Repertory Summer Shakespeare. Favorite regional acting credits include The Seafarer (Sharky) and Opus (Alan) at Southern Repertory Theatre; Macbeth (Macbeth) and King Lear (Edgar) at New Orleans Shakespeare Fest at Tulane; August Osage County (Bill), A Free Man Of Color (Pincepousse/Tallyrand), King Lear (Edmund), Design for Living (Earnest), A Doll's House (Torvald), Love's Labour's Lost (Berowne), Pride and Prejudice (Mr. Darcy) at Swine Palace; Doubt (Regional Premiere, Hangar Theatre, SALT Award winner: Best Actor), My Fair Lady at Virginia Stage Company and The Henriad at Trinity Repertory Company. Film/TV credits include Pitch Perfect, Thunderstruck, Law and Order: SVU, and Breakout Kings. Battles is a member of Actor's Equity Association. He holds a BFA (Music/Theatre) from Illinois Wesleyan University and an MFA (Acting) from Brown University/Trinity Rep (inaugural class and Stephen Sondheim Fellow).

JOE NOVAK
Technical Director and Production Manager

Joe Novak joined the JBS Theatre, Speech & Dance Department as technical director and production manager in July 2019. He was theatre production manager for STAGES St. Louis, Chaminade College Preparatory School and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Since 2011, as the owner of TheatreMarine Productions, he’s provided light, sound and scenic construction for the Playhouse at Westport Plaza, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, The Luminary, Winter Opera St. Louis, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Max & Louie Productions, Emery Entertainment, Insight Theatre, Upstream Theatre, Rebels & Misfits and the Tennessee Williams Festival. Novak holds a bachelor of arts in design and production from the North Carolina School of the Arts and served for eight years in the United States Marine Corps.

JUD DIEFFENBACH
Classroom Instructor, Coach

Jud Dieffenbach ’97 teaches debate and 7th and 8th grade physical education. He also coaches football, basketball and tennis and is a faculty sponsor of the 9th  grade. Prior to Burroughs, he taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels, most recently at MICDS. Dieffenbach holds a bachelor's degree in public affairs from Indiana University and a master's degree in history from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

JENNIFER KINNEY
Classroom Instructor, Dance Instructor

Jennifer Kinney joined the Modern Languages Department in 2013. She teaches French 8, French I, Spanish 7, and a fall dance class. She is also the assistant director of the annual dance show. Kinney holds bachelor's degrees in French and Spanish from Texas Christian University and a master's degree in French literature from St. Louis University. Kinney was trained in all styles of dance at the Performing Arts Centre in St. Charles and studied ballet at intensives with the Salt Lake City Ballet and with the Joffrey Ballet in NYC. She is working toward a teacher's certification in the Cecchetti Method of ballet, and  has been certified in Grade One and will be taking Grade Two this year.  Kinney currently teaches ballet and pointe at the Performing Arts Centre and is continuing her own study of dance with weekly classes at the Downtown Dance Center and Ashleyliane Dance Company.

TAYLOR PIETZ
Choir and Theatre Instructor

Taylor Pietz joined the Music and Theatre, Speech & Dance departments in summer 2018. She teaches choir and assists with songwriting and theatre performances. Pietz assisted with choreography for the musicals at Burroughs for two years before joining the theatre department. Since 2008, she has served as the resident musical director and choreographer at Whitfield School, and has been show choir assistant and choreographer at Mehlville High School since 2015. Taylor also taught dance and music at Thomas Jefferson School from 2012 to 2014.