2008 Hall of Fame Recipients
Sterling Heights, Michigan
Jonathan Gillespie’s talent for rescuing ailing theatre programs was apparent early in his career. As an undergraduate at Michigan State, he was assigned to student teach at Pontiac Northern High School, in a district that had survived a contentious desegregation. Mr. Gillespie led his students through a challenging production that brought students together after they confronted their own prejudices.
After graduation, Mr. Gillespie assumed the artistic director position at the Dillard School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This position, too, was a challenge: racial strife and political infighting plagued the school, and staff members had resigned in protest. Over a nine-year period, Mr. Gillespie rebuilt and stabilized the program.
A few years later Mr. Gillespie was hired by the Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts in Sterling Heights, Michigan, to save their threatened theatre arts program. He jumped in with curriculum changes that bore quick results, one of which was a powerful staging of The Diary of Anne Frank. Under his guidance, Warren Consolidated has doubled in size, and its district has invested over $7 million in a state-of-the-art performance venue and teaching facility. He also reactivated the school’s Thespian troupe.
Mr. Gillespie was also active at the chapter level while in Florida, serving as the District VII chair. Upon returning to Michigan, he was dismayed by the Michigan chapter’s limited participation and lack of organization. As a Michigan chapter board member, he brought cohesiveness to the chapter organization and its festival. Later as Michigan chapter director, he restructured the chapter leadership and expanded the festival.
Marty Hancock is one of the pillars of Miami’s theatre education community. In 1961 she chartered Thespian Troupe 1298 at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, and later she spent thirty-one years teaching at Miami Senior High School, where she directed Troupe 327.
Ms. Hancock’s influence reached beyond her classroom: she always had time for students from other schools, whether helping on an audition monologue or giving advice on college options. She went out of her way to mentor new and struggling teachers by sharing lesson plans, helping with play selection, and critiquing their work.
Additionally, she served as Florida Thespian District VIII chair in the 1970s, and Florida chapter director from 1977 to 1980.
She is a founding member of the Florida Association for Theatre Education, and was named FATE Educator of the Year and Dade Association for Theatre Education Educator of the Year. She was also recognized for her outstanding service by the Florida State Thespians.
Ms. Hancock participated on several influential committees for Miami-Dade County and Florida, including the advisory committee for state drama certification and the drama, speech, and journalism textbook adoption committee for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Even after officially retiring nearly thirteen years before her induction into the Hall of Fame, Ms. Hancock continued to adjudicate individual events and one-acts for the Florida Theatre Conference, Florida State Thespian Festival, Southeastern Theatre Conference, and International Thespian Festival. She was a guest lecturer at the University of Miami and worked with non-theatre majors there. She also conducted workshops and was a member of the Florida conference main stage screening committee.
Patricia Lee Hitchler’s first theatre experience was as the choreographer for her high school production of The Music Man. Originally on the pre-med track in college, she switched majors and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and drama and a Bachelor of Science in education at the University of Missouri.
Ms. Hitchler began teaching at Olathe (Kansas) East High School in 1992; she chartered Thespian Troupe 5078 that same year, and was still directing the troupe at the time of her induction into the Hall of Fame. She also directed Thespian troupes at Northglenn High School in Denver and Olathe North High School. Her troupe performed Love by the Bolt on the Thespian Festival main stage in 2006, and received the Gold Troupe Award from the Kansas State Thespian Society from 1991 through 2004. The troupe has appeared on the Kansas State Thespian Conference main stage six times.
Ms. Hitchler wrote the Olathe district curriculum for theatre and created the Theatre Endorsement Program, in which students choose an area of emphasis in theatre performance or technical theatre and prepare a portfolio that they present in their senior year. She established a festival that continues to produce up to eight student-written, student-directed one-acts each year.
Ms. Hitchler served as the Kansas chapter director and was a member of the Kansas state Thespian board for fourteen years. She was an EdTA leadership coach for five years. She is an adjunct professor at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri and is a member of the Kansas Thespian Hall of Fame.
Olathe East received the EdTA Outstanding School Award in 2000, and Ms. Hitchler has been awarded four Innovative Teaching Grants and was a Children’s Theatre Foundation of America nominee in 2002.
Madelon Horvath’s association with EdTA began when she found out about the Ohio Thespian Conference in 1981. She took her students to the conference, and as she puts it, “I was hooked.”
A teaching veteran of more than twenty-five years, Ms. Horvath has always fought for the arts. She has defended her school’s theatre electives from being eliminated, written grants to fund guest instructors, and persuaded school administrators to hire additional drama department staff.
She was the director of Troupe 1784 at Chardon (Ohio) High School from 1980 to 1999, and continued to contribute at the time of her induction as co-director of the troupe. She is fondly called “Mama H” by students.
Ms. Horvath was a member of the Ohio Thespian board for ten years, including a term as chapter director, and later as regional director. She also worked as a leadership coach with chapter directors to improve their leadership and programming. She served on the EdTA nominating committee, and directed for Thespian Playworks at the International Thespian Festival several times.
Inspired by an EdTA workshop, Ms. Horvath started a Leadership Camp at Chardon for Thespian Officers (and other leaders at school), where they received training in leadership and planning for two days. It became an annual event and was highlighted at the Ohio School Board Convention.
The road map of Terry McGonigle’s career in theatre education crisscrosses the United States, from Kansas to Georgia to Nevada.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and theatre arts from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas and a master’s in technical theatre and design at Emporia State University, and then taught at several Kansas high schools. He served as Kansas Thespian chapter director from 1984 through 1988.
He relocated to the South, working as a professor of speech and theatre at Gordon College in Georgia. Over a thirteen year period he directed the theatre programs and taught technical theatre for several Georgia school districts. He served as the university chair for the Georgia Theatre Association and as the program chair for the Georgia state Thespian conference. He was also a member of the Georgia Thespian state board.
At the time of his Hall of Fame induction Mr. McGonigle was teaching and directing technical theatre and costume design at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies and Visual and Performing Arts and was a member of the Nevada Thespian state board.
In addition to his teaching, Mr. McGonigle has been a guest artist at numerous Thespian chapter conferences. He also adjudicates for the International Thespian Festival main stage. He was the costumer for the International Thespian company productions of Ragtime—School Edition and Thoroughly Modern Millie—School Edition. As International Thespian Officers liaison, he worked with the student officers who are the voice of the International Thespian Society membership.
He was named Georgia Youth Arts Educator of the Year in 1999, and has been inducted into both the Kansas and the Georgia Thespian Halls of Fame.