Dr. Erwin: The Changemaker



Thomas Johnson, Editor

Dr. Erwin is at Priory to change all of our lives. In his first year as a Fine Arts teacher and director, he has already revolutionized both programs. With years of both professional and educational experience, he came to Priory with many ideas of how to better our lives and he has already begun to roll out these changes and tells us to expect many more to come. As a man who changed his major five times at Truman University before earning a Masters in Education, he is a large fan of change for the better.

Dr. Erwin was born in Dayton, Ohio, but moved to St. Louis when he was eight years old. He attended Rosary High School, which is the current Trinity Catholic High School. Once he graduated from high school, he attended Truman State University. Dr. Erwin said, “what you think you are going to do is different from what you are going to do.” He exemplifies this as he dabbled in Vocal Music, Design, Journalism, and English as majors before he finally landed on Education. He “would have laughed at somebody if they told me I would be a teacher when I was older.” However, he completed his education by earning a doctorate in Education at Lindenwood University. While there, he wrote his dissertation on how there is a direct correlation between ACT scores and Fine Arts. While Dr. Erwin understands not everybody has the calling for Fine Arts, he is trying his best to get people the most scholarship money and high scores as possible through his teaching.

Before he came to Priory, Dr. Erwin was a teacher at McCluer High School where he had the “largest African American theater troupe in the state of Missouri.” However, he knew his time at McCluer was over when “it began to start feeling like work.” He announced his retirement, but then his friend sent him a job listing from Priory. She told him “you would be a really good fit here. These boys need you and you might just need them too.” He was hired in March and he accepted the job without having seen the campus. He did not even see the campus until June, but he does not regret his decision. “I wanted to work with good kids and make some art. You guys are allowing me to do that. I am very proud about Camelot.”

As his very first production at Priory, Dr. Erwin can only see things going up from here as the younger students at Priory go through the entirety of his program. He wants to get recognition for the actors in his productions as he entered Priory in the St. Louis Musical Theater Awards for the first time this year, although they were later canceled. However, awards are not the only thing Dr. Erwin wants to do for his students. Dr. Erwin says “there is more scholarship money for fine arts than every sport combined” and he envisions multiple Priory students winning scholarships for fine arts in the future.

Through his well-rounded education, Dr. Erwin is able to do many things. At Priory, he is not only a teacher and director, but he is also the moderator for Mock Trial and the Drama Club. Mr. Nickolai approached Dr. Erwin to be the moderator for Mock Trial and Dr. Erwin says it is perfect for him as he is “super competitive.” He also started the Drama Club at Priory and he hopes to get to a point where he can travel internationally to perform with the club members.

While he has been here for less than a year, Dr. Erwin has already changed many things about the Priory theater program and he is only getting started. He is grateful to his friend for telling him about the job and to Ms. Swigelson, Mrs. Hostnik, and Mrs. Chestnas for their extreme generosity in helping him in his first year at Priory. Dr. Erwin is only getting started on his journey to amaze theater goers, change students’ lives, and have some fun while doing it.