Lake Oswego, Oregon
“Drama provides a shared, living celebration of the joys, sorrows, and mysteries of being alive,” wrote Milli Hoelscher, a tireless advocate of educational theatre who spent forty-two years working to share theatre with her students and colleagues.
A Thespian sponsor and director of drama at both Lake Oswego and Lakeridge High Schools in Lake Oswego, Oregon, Ms. Hoelscher earned a bachelor’s degree in dance and a master’s in theatre from the University of Illinois. She was a regular at state conferences, the Thespian Festival, EdTA conventions, and professional development sessions. She taught in England, Canada, Australia, France, and Spain, studied theatre in Japan, and was a member of the People to People Citizen Ambassadors Program to China.
“Milli has focused student learning on understanding universal human experience and embracing diversity,” wrote one colleague who described Ms. Hoelscher’s efforts to expose students of all ages to Asian theatre. She was also instrumental in a partnership program involving local schools, businesses, and community theatre, and led students on theatre tours to New York, London, and Vancouver.
“She has given many young people an immense amount of self-esteem which goes a long way in today’s world,” wrote another colleague. “There are numerous students who cite Milli as their emotional and professional anchor through their high school years.”
She received the Melba Day Sparks Award from Oregon Thespians for her contributions to Oregon theatre, and the Lakewood Theatre Company Heritage Award, of which she was only the twelfth recipient in forty-five years. “To watch students broaden their horizons,” she said, “grow in self-esteem and self-expression, gather communication skills and share all of these experiences on a daily basis is one of the great rewards of being a theatre teacher.”