May 2, 2017
The Educational Theatre Association annually recognizes outstanding individuals who have gone above and beyond in their role as an administrator. Individuals or administrative teams at the department, building, or district level may be nominated by troupe or chapter directors. This year’s Administrator’s Awards go to: Beth Baker, associate principal, Acton-Boxborough (Massachusetts) Regional High School; Theresa Carroll, vice principal and fine arts supervising principal, Leavenworth (Kansas) High School; and Dr. Brett O’Connor, theatre director, Claremont (California) High School.
Associate Principal Beth Baker has played a large role in making shows with mature content and themes accessible to the theatre department and the larger community. Instead of saying no to productions, she consults with the English and history departments to see how they handle sensitive content. She helped to develop a proposal system that allowed the administrative team to better understand a show’s educational merit. Baker also recognized the potential for audience concerns and helped to address those through ratings and dramaturgical displays. She does not miss a performance and even travels to see state festival shows.
Jessica Harms, director of Troupe 5552, nominated Baker, saying, “First and foremost, Beth has helped us develop systems to focus our programming and to help bring our entire community on board. … Beth has taken the time to get to know our needs and unique challenges and has helped us navigate through those to achieve success.”
Vice Principal and Fine Arts Supervising Principal Theresa Carroll has spent most of her life teaching physical education and coaching, but the value she places on theatre education is apparent — doing everything in her power to grow the theatre program and provide a safe place for all. She is visible in classes, productions, and events. She has supported new endeavors to expose theatre students to events and institutions outside their school, changes to the curriculum, and funding and fundraising opportunities. The curricular theatre program has doubled its class size, the extracurricular theatre program has tripled in participation over the past year and half, and theatre audiences have more than quadrupled. While achieving all of this, Carroll was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has undergone intense treatment, but this has not slowed her involvement in the theatre program.
Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat, director of Troupe 287, nominated Carroll, saying, “Ms. Carroll always keeps her attitude positive. She chooses to live with joy! There is irony in the juxtaposition that she is always trying to find more funding for theatre when her own bills keep mounting. … She lifts up our students and inspires me to be better each day. Her example takes away any excuses that would prevent us from seeking to be amazing every day.”
Theatre Director Dr. O’Connor has taken an active role in the theatre department in everything from playing roles to championing large fundraising campaigns. On onefundraising campaign, the private donations raised inspired the district to contribute the remaing balance of the goal, allowing the renovation of the theatre to move forward. He supported the creation of a Theatre Legacy to fund the theatre program once the current director retires. When Troupe 2129 was invited to perform Starmites at the 2011 International Thespian Festival, he championed the fundraising to get them there, and he attended as a chaperone. In addition to finding funding for the theatre students’ activities, Dr. O’Connor also stays up-to-date on national and state standards and ensures that his teachers are able to take all professional development opportunities, including state and national conferences.
Troupe Director and EdTA Board member Krista Carson Elhai nominated O’Connor, saying, “He fully immersed himself in the role of learner and often said how important it was for the students and staff to see him try something new and outside his comfort zone and skill set. As he walked the walk and talked the talk of being a lifelong learner, he set a strong example for our students and became an excellent role model for our theatre students, staff, and student body.”