2007 Hall of Fame Recipients
Upon graduating from Webster University in 1983, Lana Hagan started teaching drama and writing at Washington (Missouri) High School, which at the time had only a one-semester drama class and $15 in its drama budget.
Undaunted, Ms. Hagan spent the next thirteen years building a full curriculum of six drama classes and developing extracurricular programming that involved hundreds of students. She raised $2.5 million for a new state-of-the-art performing arts facility. When she left the school for a teaching position at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1997, the Washington High School drama department was $39,000 in the black and offered four scholarships to attend the Thespian Festival.
Ms. Hagan had chartered a Thespian troupe for the school in 1987, and the following June drove a busload of newly inducted Thespians to the Thespian Festival in Muncie, Indiana. At the time of her Hall of Fame induction she had attended twenty-four consecutive Festivals.
From 1993 to 1999, Ms. Hagan served as Missouri chapter director, restructuring the chapter and revising its board election procedures. The success of these changes prompted other chapters to adopt the Missouri chapter board and Missouri All-State Show models.
Ms. Hagan was a trainer for EdTA’s first national arts advocacy program, and also one of EdTA’s first leadership coaches. She worked with chapters in Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Montana, Utah, and the entire country of Canada.
In 2006 SIUE debuted a new theatre education degree program that she created.
Jay Jensen’s teaching career started in 1954. During his twenty-seven-year tenure at Miami Beach Senior High, Mr. Jensen taught six daily classes; as the school Thespian troupe director he inducted more than 850 Thespians. He directed more than three hundred plays and ninety musicals over his lifetime.
In addition to his teaching job, Mr. Jensen volunteered in the greater Miami area as a drama teacher and assisted with fundraising by producing plays and musicals. He served as president of the Miami-Dade Public Schools drama and speech department from 1970 to 1978, and also supervised intern teachers at the University of Miami School of Education. In the mid-1970s he was a regional director for EdTA.
Mr. Jensen’s idea of relaxation was teaching during his vacation at Colegio Peterson in Mexico City; later the school named its sports and arts center after him.
He gave generously to Miami arts and higher learning institutions, including donations of $3 million to the University of Miami School of Education and $1 million to the University of Miami Theatre Arts Department for a visiting artist endowment. In appreciation for this support and commitment, the university named its School of Education building after him.
In 2006 Mr. Jensen was prominently featured in the documentary Class Act, which was produced by the same team responsible for Super Size Me. The film highlighted the importance of arts education and the results of the elimination of arts and music programs from schools around the country. It includes interviews with Mr. Jensen and the recollections of several of his former students, including actor Andy Garcia, ESPN sportscaster Roy Firestone, director Brett Ratner, Broadway producer Adam Epstein, casting director Debra Zane, songwriter Desmond Child, and the president of Latin Univision José Behar.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2006, Mr. Jensen died in February 2007. His induction into the EdTA Hall of Fame is a posthumous tribute to his lifetime achievements in theatre education.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
Not long after he started teaching English at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Ed Moon was asked to serve as technical director for the school’s theatre department. Going in, he had little interest in theatre or knowledge about it, but he jumped into the challenge feet-first, taking graduate courses in set and lighting design, and he continued these studies throughout his career.
During his thirty-four years at Hersey, Mr. Moon handled technical direction and production for 103 shows. He founded Hersey’s annual children’s theatre show, which has district-wide participation. He also chartered Hersey’s Thespian Troupe 2388 and served as troupe director for eighteen years and as an advisor for six.
When the Illinois Department of Education mandated a fine arts graduation requirement, Mr. Moon developed the curriculum both at his school and at the district level. He later was asked to consult for other districts and was a featured speaker at the National Association of Secondary School Principals 2002 annual conference on curriculum changes in the arts. He served on the Illinois Theatre Association’s curriculum committees.
Mr. Moon presented workshops on set design and lighting at the Thespian Festival and the Illinois High School Theatre Festival and designed the sets and lighting for EdTA’s first three national Thespian cast productions. He also worked on three Illinois all-state productions.
He served as Illinois chapter director for six years.
Mr. Moon’s school district presented him with the Outstanding Contribution to Education Award in both 1992 and 2004. In 2003 he received the Myrtle Rothermel Service to Colleagues Award, and he is in Who’s Who in American Education.
Mr. Moon retired in 2005, but still keeps a busy schedule, working at Metropolis Theatre in Arlington Heights and consulting for technical theatre programs in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago.
After earning a bachelor of arts degree in communication and theatre education from the University of Colorado, Janine West accepted a theatre teaching position at Wray (Colorado) High School, where she directed sixty-one productions, expanded the one-year speech and drama class to three levels, and built a new auditorium during the following eighteen years.
She later moved to a teaching position at Boulder High School, where she directed a Thespian troupe and produced thirty-five shows over ten years. She disseminated rubric ideas from her training in assessment strategies through faculty workshops, and parlayed her membership with the United State Institute for Theatre Technology into additional technical conference opportunities for her students.
Ms. West’s relationship with EdTA began when she assumed the direction of Wray High School’s Thespian troupe. Ms. West, an original member of the Colorado state Thespian board, eventually served as the Colorado chapter director for five of the seventeen years she worked with the board. She was also an EdTA territorial director for three years, a member of the leadership development team, and most recently a leadership coach.
Of Ms. West as a teacher, former student Carol Leighton Chiarito said: “She taught not only me, but also each of her students to think creatively and act on those thoughts. There was never a bad idea.” Gail Ardueser, a former colleague, added that “students everywhere need, and deserve, more teachers like her.”