The Team

Our Heart

Jo HeiligerFounder and Executive Director Jo Heiliger had the dream, then the vision, of connecting young people to their families and their histories, past and future, through an object treasured by their family.

Jim DaileyProjects Coördinator and historical performer Jim Dailey, after retiring as a middle school teacher, joined his dream to Jo’s as he sought ways to reach kinesthetic learners and employ object-based learning to make education more meaningful.
Early in his teaching career Jim struggled teaching high school English classes. The struggle was born of the materials distributed to teachers. They just did not meet the needs of the students he taught. He started looking for alternative methods of teaching. His search led to an exciting project called Foxfire. The concept of the Foxfire Project was to give students the opportunity to interview people in their community. The interviews, guided by a teacher, were then put into written form. In 1982-84 Jim’s English classes produced two short books based upon the community of Pawnee, OK where he taught.
In 1985 Jim took a new position as a social studies teacher for the Pawnee Middle School. Jim believed that students, especially those in grades 4 through 8, should use textbooks for necessary information, but really needed to learn about civics and their US government by seeing, acting, and doing. Jim encouraged and assisted his students in actively participating in the community through student-led community projects. Students were also given the opportunity to involve their families with lessons and on-site history trips.
In 2001, inspired by what he had learned from teaching, Jim developed a first-person narrative presentation based on his father’s experiences during World War 2. Jim has performed his character in classrooms, adult living centers, and to history-related clubs in an effort to stimulate others to Discover Hidden Treasure for themselves.


Ann BirneyAnn Birney is Managing Partner of Ride into History, a historical performance touring troupe Kansas Alliance of Professional Historic Performers. In addition to her experience performing (Amelia Earhart is her signature performance) and training people of all ages to perform first person narratives, she is also Executive Director of the Ride into History Cultural and Educational Project, Inc., which makes history accessible through the arts. In addition to her knowledge of coaching people as they develop first person narratives, she also brings experience with not-for-profit organizations.
E-mail Ann, or Phone 620-528-3580

Joyce ThiererJoyce Thierer is the founding partner of Ride into History and has over twenty-five years of experience in historical performance. She is author of Telling History: A Manual for Performers and Presenters of First Person Narratives (AltaMira Press/AASLH) and Associate Professor of History at Emporia State University where most of her students are future teachers and public historians. Jim Dailey and Barbara Fowler began the process of developing their first person narratives at Ride into History Preserving Our Past through Performance workshop with Joyce and Ann.
E-mail Joyce, or Phone 620-528-3580

Barb FowlerBarbara Fowler is a Nationally Certified Kansas Master
with many years experience teaching middle
school social science in Emporia, Kansas. Her M.A. project
(2011) was a first person narrative of a Kansas settler. She
applied the Discover Hidden Treasure curriculum in her
classroom in spring of 2013, developing materials that will
benefit all teachers who use DHT. She anticipates using it
in her new venue, a charter school where she help middle
school through high school students as they learn language
arts and social science.

Joyce HuserJoyce Huser is Arts Consultant for the Kansas Department
of Education.
She brings her knowledge of state standards
and how to integrate the arts across the curriculum. Joyce
drafted the curriculum guide for Discover Hidden Treasure. A
visual artist, she crossed into theater performance to create a
sample first person narrative for DHT and she has introduced
DHT to teachers at education conferences.