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.