About World Upside Down

Mission

The World Upside Down Story

Our Mission

We believe that arts education is the best tool we can use to change the world for good. We aim to share the mind and heart of Jesus through every class we teach because we believe that in doing so, we can give people a hope and a future.

The Dream

Most people are curious about the World Upside Down story and how we started with a dream in 2006. Founder, Joanna Puello, had just been offered a job at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to work for a small communications team that worked directly with the ambassador. Her kids were young, the job required a lot of weekend travel, and her husband was already touring heavily with his band. It was definitely the case of “dream job, wrong time”. But it was the first opportunity that Joanna had as a young wife and mother, to ask God and herself the question, “What is my purpose on this earth? What did you create me to do? If I could do anything in the world, what would it be?” The answer came quickly and clearly: arts education. Joanna turned down the embassy job and started a business plan for an after school program that could offer students classes in music, visual arts, dance, and theater–all under one roof. Investors were interested, plans started evolving, and then the economy crashed. The Puellos moved to Orlando, FL, and World Upside Down took a pause.

First Pilot Program

In 2010-11, while completing her Masters of Science in Instructional Design, Joanna piloted the concept of video curriculum in the arts–videos that teachers anywhere could integrate into their classrooms. Three schools and more than fifty students in the Dominican Republic participated in the pilot program, and the results were very favorable, and professors encouraged Joanna to pursue her World Upside Down after graduation.

Nonprofit Launch

World Upside Down (WUD) was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2013 with a mission to make arts education accessible and affordable to students K-12 around the world. We worked from 2013 – 2022 to create video curricula that could be integrated into a variety of classroom environments. Some of these projects we completed include:

A Better Way to a Brighter Future: The story of Siriwan, a fifth grader at a Title I school in Orlando, FL, who participated in our pilot project.

World Upside Down: Our first promo video.

PBS Kids Celebrity SteveSongs partnered with World Upside Down to create video curricula for elementary music teachers and kids.

Teaching Artist Jairo Puello partnered with World Upside Down to create video curricula for elementary music teachers and kids.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Show Kit: Drama Instructor Cindy Lowa partnered with World Upside Down to create video curricula for Middle School Drama teachers.

For-Profit Launch

World Upside Down Arts Studio builds upon the World Upside Down brand and mission as a for-profit venture, owned and operated by Joanna and Jairo Puello. We opened doors on January 16, 2023, and we still partner with our nonprofit to offer scholarships to our students and some of our programs.

Core Team

Jairo Puello

Owner

Jairo was born in the Dominican Republic and started his musical career in Puerto Rico where he graduated from seminary. He later returned to his country to be the national director of Awana Clubs International in the D.R. Of his seven music albums, these are the most popular: You are Exalted, I’ll Stay With You, Attached to You (nominated to the Cassandra Awards 2008), and On the Rock. He currently works as a State Farm insurance agent for Mahler Nunez serves on the worship team at NewSpring Church (Greenville campus), and is the music director for the musical theater program at the studio.

Joanna Puello

Owner and Director

Joanna Puello has 25+ years of experience as an educator, nonprofit founder and director, senior instructional designer, and project manager. She plays the piano and violin. Theater and video production are her jam. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Bob Jones University and an MS in Instructional Design from Full Sail University. She is the founder and CEO of World Upside Down nonprofit and World Upside Down Arts Studio.

Megan Puello

Graphic Designer and After School Bus Driver

Megan is a talented vocalist. She has recorded background vocals for indie artists like Jairo Puello and Charlee Buitrago. She loves to lead worship for Fuse at NewSpring church and is passionate about mentoring young artists. She is studying Front End Development at Bethel Tech bootcamp. At the studio, Megan assists with graphic design and drives the bus for our after school program.

Milca Puello

Assistant Director Intern

Milca is an amazing vocalist and plays saxophone and has recorded vocals for several indie artists. She is a social media influencer and leads worship at NewSpring church. She has a BS in Special Education from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Enrique Ureña and is excited about offering classes and services to students with special needs. She teaches music, private voice lessons, and assists with special needs students.