“I believe that I have chosen to do theatre simply because I love it,” Nancy Sprowls wrote in her statement to the Hall of Fame committee. “It is storytelling in its best and most powerful form, feeding both the mind and heart. Live theatre puts the imagination to work in a way that the electronic forms do not.”
Over her twenty-eight-year teaching career in Brunswick (Ohio) public schools, Ms. Sprowls turned an almost-nonexistent theatre program into a year-round endeavor including children’s theatre productions, one-act plays, full-length plays and musicals, and a show especially for freshmen. She established a Thespian troupe there in 1969-70, and began a speech team that participated actively and successfully in contests sponsored by the Ohio High School Speech League. She regularly brought students to state and national Thespian conferences, and has for many years provided EdTA and other arts organizations with spirited, principled leadership.
In explaining her educational philosophy, Ms. Sprowls wrote, “A sound theatre education program can equip students with the tools of informed criticism that let them focus on content. It is this educated understanding that can defend them from being manipulated by the techniques of the knowledgeable propagandist and the seller of cheap entertainment goods.”
Colleagues credit Ms. Sprowls with bringing live theatre to a rapidly growing, blue-collar community, and with giving hundreds of students a reason to come to school every day. As one wrote in his recommendation, “If all this sounds too good to be true, then you have an accurate picture of Nancy Sprowls. Nancy endears herself to pupil, parent, and fellow educator because her voice is one of wisdom, and because she does, in fact, ‘act well her part.’ Many of us learned what that meant from her.”