Eleven Individuals, Four Schools Celebrated for High Achievements in Theatre Education
Each year, the EdTA honors the achievements of individuals and theatre programs with special awards presented in recognition of notable accomplishments. This year’s list of recipients includes the following:
The Educational Theatre Association Administrator’s Award recognizes outstanding school administrators who have demonstrated exemplary support for educational theatre and is awarded to Dr. Kristi Gibbs of Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School in Bennington, Neb., Dr. Brian Nichols of New Kent High School in New Kent, Va., and Dr. Tara Taylor of Fairfax County Public School in Fairfax, Va. Those who nominated them articulated one unifying key factor in all three administrators’ applications: the dedication to be present and visible in support of the theatre programs at their schools, especially as each began to rebuild after the pandemic. Each took the time and energy to show up in support of their theatre teachers and students which has fostered a strong sense of wider community support in the theatre program.
In addition to Dr. Gibbs, two Brownell-Talbot volunteers have been chosen for the Honorary Thespian of the Year Award, which recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond the standard duties of a volunteer in service to educational theatre. Casey Garrigan and Liz Zellner donated their time, talents, resources, and financial support to rebuild Brownell-Talbot’s program after two years of no theatre activity. In the words of director Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat, they exemplify “creating magic in educational theatre.”
The Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame Award is presented annually to EdTA members who have dedicated 20 or more years to promoting educational theatre. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees are Dorothy DeLucchi of Severn, Md. and Victor Pilolla of River Grove, Ill. As an educator, troupe director, and Maryland Thespians chapter director, DeLucchi has strengthened theatre education in the state, including involvement in revising the Maryland theatre standards and growing the Maryland Thespian Festival to more than 1,000 students. At Leyden High School District 212, Pilolla developed a top-flight technical theatre program and built a bilingual theatre program that revitalized participation at the school.
The Educational Theatre Association Outstanding School Award is given to high schools with theatre programs that exemplify and promote high standards in educational theatre. This year’s honored school is Topeka West High School in Topeka, Kan. The theatre arts program at Topeka West places a large emphasis on advocacy for theatre in education, with students visiting and volunteering at other schools, writing letters and attending Advocacy Day at the state capitol to discuss the benefits of theatre education with representatives, and creating a robust public presence on social media.
In addition to the Outstanding School Award, Topeka West was also among four schools who were awarded the Outstanding Impact Award for their work during March, which is EdTA’s Theatre In Our Schools Month. Also recognized for their efforts were Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobbs, Ind., Cairo High School in Cario, Ga., and Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School in Omaha, Neb. Schools documented their advocacy efforts during the month at the school, community, and governmental levels and earned points for their efforts. The four winners each received a free license to perform a Disney show of their choosing from program sponsor Disney Theatrical Group.
The International Thespian Society Inspirational Theatre Educator Award recognizes individuals who have inspired their students and dedicated themselves to providing quality theatre education. The 20212 recipients are Jamie Micheletto of Schaumburg High School in Schaumburg, Ill., Dr. Michael Penna of Collier High School in Wickatunk, N.J. and Marty Strohmeyer of Visitation Academy in St. Louis, Mo.
Previously announced as the recipient of the Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teacher of the Year Award was Cristina Pla-Guzman of Miami Country Day School in Miramar, Fla. The award is presented in partnership with The ASCAP Foundation to recognize the highest level of achievement for teaching musical theatre. Pla-Guzman will receive a $5,000 cash prize when she is formally presented with the award at EdTA’s Theatre Education Conference September 29 – October 1 in Los Angeles. Registration for the event is open through September 1, 2022.
“It’s gratifying to recognize so many deserving teachers and administrators for their incredible accomplishments,” said EdTA Chief Membership Officer Hans Weichhart. “These award winners prove that theatre education truly does shape lives.”