At a point in her life when she had forty years of teaching theatre behind her and was about to be inducted into the EdTA Hall of Fame, Michelle Busti was looking forward to all that she had yet to learn and to share. “As I focus on my vision of the future,” she wrote in her application to the Hall of Fame committee, “my sights are set on my role in the wings, helping people communicate ideas and share emotions on the various stages of our world.”
With a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Siena Heights College in Adrian, Michigan, a master’s from Catholic University and hours of postgraduate work from six different universities, Ms. Busti was well-equipped to achieve her vision. Her own experience as a young theatre teacher in pursuit of theatrical knowledge inspired her to reach out to colleagues as well as students. She has written a technical theatre book, designed to assist theatre teachers in organizing backstage crews, which she markets through her own business.
At first challenged to keep up with trends in theatre, Ms. Busti worked to make theatre relevant to the students she taught. Besides the more standard theatre fare, she and her students at Cherry Creek Alternative High School in Denver staged well-received productions dealing with issues like AIDS, teen alcoholism, suicide, and pregnancy.
Students who have had difficulty in traditional schools come to the alternative school. One of Ms. Busti’s colleagues wrote: “Students who were frequently truant and greatly at risk of dropping out of school often found acceptance, encouragement and a connection to the school community through their inclusion in Michele’s theatre family.”
She served EdTA as a Thespian sponsor, state director, and board member. She was instrumental in the creation of Junior Thespians. She was also active with organizations promoting theatre in Colorado.
Close to retirement at the time of her induction, Ms. Busti reflected on her professional journey: “I am proud to say I have shared what I am and what I have learned with students, student teachers, and fellow teachers and directors. I’ll continue to mentor new theatre teachers and support the present ones. A forty-year passion cannot be retired.”