The International Thespian Society annually recognizes up to three individuals who have inspired their students and dedicated themselves to providing high quality theatre education. Only inducted Thespians or Junior Thespians may nominate an educator. This year, the Inspirational Theatre Educator Awards go to: Kelly Carlson, Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland; Philip Lee “Peelee” Clark, West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia; and Carolyn Little, Toms River High School North in Toms River, New Jersey.
Kelly Carlson is the director of Troupe 2891. She encourages her students to persevere through challenges and constantly work to improve their craft as thespians. She facilitates collaboration and participation in all areas of theatre, and takes great care to ensure students are learning in a safe, positive environment, where they can feel comfortable enough to experiment, make bold choices, and learn from mistakes.
Sarah Jones, who nominated Carlson said, “She has so much confidence and faith in her students, and her interactions with us in our times of need are what truly classify her as an empathetic, prepared, charismatic theatre teacher.”
Peelee Clark is the director of Troupe 1899. He works diligently to give students the tools to succeed, not only in his program, but also in life beyond high school. He has actively sought out additional theatre opportunities for his students such as performing at the Kennedy Center, attending professional regional and Broadway productions, training with outside professionals in a wide variety of skills, and working with teaching artists at the Shakespeare and Folgers Theatres. Clark also encourages students to self-advocate and teaches them the critical importance of teamwork. He has helped many students prepare to pursue theatre in college and as a potential career.
Antonio Lemus, who nominated Clark said, “Mr. Clark motivates students to always work hard for things they really want whether it is in academics, as a student of theatre, or in outside pursuits. He pushes all students towards self-improvement and is a role model for everyone by showing his incredible work ethic and standards on a daily basis.”
Carolyn Little is the director of Troupe 7455. She goes above and beyond to support and encourage students to take on leadership roles in productions and teaches them to adapt to any situation they may encounter. Little uses theatre experiences to educate students and audiences, and to create a dialogue within the community. With each production she has partnered with an awareness or charitable organization relevant to the show’s theme, donating a portion of the ticket sales.
Luke Sulsenti, who nominated Little said, “It’s incredible what we manage to achieve with her guiding us. For 11 years she has overseen our drama department, and each year it improves as she always includes what she learns from us, and what she has learned from her experiences as Chapter director.”