Education Award

The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University Honor Theatre Teachers with the Excellence in Theatre Education Award

Excellence in Theatre Education Award 2019

Behind every great performance is inspiration, and behind inspiration is a great teacher.

SUBMISSIONS FOR 2019 ARE NOW CLOSED. The deadline for submissions was February 22.

Did a theatre educator make a difference in your life, or the life of someone you know? The Tony Awards® and Carnegie Mellon University are looking for the teachers who create the next generation of theatre artists. These dedicated professionals discover talented students, nurture them, inspire them and set them off on a lifelong journey as theatre supporters and professionals.

We invited members of the public to submit candidates for the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award by telling the story of a theatre educator who made a difference in your life, and the lives of others.

The 2019 winner will be honored on the June 9 telecast of the 73rd annual Tony Awards on CBS.

The submission deadline was February 22, 2019. Thank you to all who submitted candidates and wrote letters of recommendation.

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. The winning teacher will be recognized on the 2019 Tony Awards telecast on CBS on June 9. The award comes with a grant of $10,000 for the teacher's theatre program, and tickets for the winner to attend the Tony Awards ceremony and Gala.

Master Classes and Pre-College Program Scholarships from Carnegie Mellon

The Tonys and Carnegie Mellon will recognize the person or persons who submitted the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education winner with an additional prize: Theatre professionals from Carnegie Mellon will arrange a special master class presentation for the winner’s school or organization.

In addition, two students from the theatre program overseen by the winner of the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award will receive full scholarships to the six-week Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Pre-College Program. The program will introduce students to its internationally acclaimed conservatory program through classes in acting, music theatre, design and production, taught by School of Drama faculty. The selected students will live on campus and take part in university activities and, together with fellow students, prepare for college auditions and interviews. Scholarship winners will be chosen by the winning teacher and/or his/her school.

About the Award

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, is presented each year by the Tony Awards. A panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University and other leaders from the theatre industry selects the winner, based on candidates submitted by members of the public.


Past Winners




Melody Herzfeld

Melody Herzfeld
Drama Teacher
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Parkland, FL.


2018 Honorable Mentions

Jasmine Bucher
Musical Director
Palmyra Area High School
Palmyra, Pennsylvania

Jamie Cacciola-Price
Theatre Director/Educator
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
Queens, New York

Sarah Crowell
Artistic Director
Destiny Arts Center
Oakland, California

Ward Dales
Theater/Drama Teacher
Albany High School           
Albany, New York

Jeffrey Erickson
Theatre Teacher
Robert Frost Elementary School   
Kirkland, Washington

Tim Fath
Director of Theater Operations
Miami Children's Theater  
Miami, Florida

Chip Gallagher
Department Chair, Musical Theatre
Governor's School for the Arts
Norfolk, Virginia

Jasmine Hammond
Resident Teaching Artist   
Walnut Street Theatre        
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Isiah Harper
Drama Teacher/Fine Arts Department Chair    
Northside High School      
Columbus, Georgia

Ron Headrick
Adjunct Faculty Music Theater Workshop, Connection Director       
New World School of the Arts High School       
Miami, Florida

Kristin Huffman     
Founder and Artistic Director       
New Paradigm Theatre      
Milford, Connecticut

Marie Jagger-Taylor          
Cultural Arts Director        
Decatur Park District          
Decatur, Illinois

Nancy Lee     
Producing Artistic Director           
Washburn High School      
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Michael Maguire    
Theatre Director/ Educator          
Morristown High School Theatre 
Morristown, New Jersey

Lisa Okikawa          
Theatre Teacher       
West Orange County Consortium for Special Education        
Huntington Beach, California

Toby Orenstein      
Founder and Artistic Director       
The Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts
Columbia, Maryland

Troy Powell 
Director of Theater for Union Public Schools     
Union High School 
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Matthew Reynolds
Director of Drama and Dance       
Crater Renaissance Academy       
Central Point, Oregon

A. Lorraine Robinson
Senior Director of Programs          
Sitar Arts Center 
Washington, DC

Torrey Russell        
Artistic Director       
A Source of Joy Theatricals/Broadway in the HOOD  
Las Vegas, Nevada

Holly Stanfield      
Theatre Director/ Educator          
Mary D. Bradford High School     
Kenosha, Wisconsin

Janine Nina Trevens          
Producing Artistic Director & Founder   
TADA! Youth Theater        
New York, New York

Zulaika Velazquez 
Artistic Director       
George Washington High School 
New York, New York

Rhonda Wilson      
Founder/Artistic Director 
Star Center Children's Theatre      
Gainesville, Florida




Rachel Harry

Rachel Harry
Hood River, Oregon
Drama teacher at Hood River Valley High School.

Honorable Mentions

Beth Baur
Memorial High School
(West New York, NJ)

Hugh Copeland
Founder and Artistic Director
The Hurrah Players, Inc.
(Norfolk, VA)

Sarah Crowell|
Artistic Director
Destiny Arts Center at Destiny Arts Center
(Oakland, CA)

Carl Dickerson
Fine Arts Teacher
Sky Harbour Elementary Dolphin Drama
(San Antonio, TX)

David Green
Musical Theatre University
(Rancho Mirage, CA)

Edmond Guay
Avondale High School - Avondale Theatre Company
(Auburn Hills MI)

Sylvia Haynie
Director of Theater
Stratford Academy
(Macon, GA)

Erica Heilmann
Theatre Arts/English Teacher (Drama Director and Choreographer)
Thornton Fractional South High School
(affiliated with Oak Lawn Community Theatre)
(Lansing, IL)

Nancy Lee
Producing Artistic Director
Washburn High School Performing Arts Department at Washburn High School
(Minneapolis, MN)

Jessica Lisboa
Theatre Teacher
North Star Academy
(Newark, NJ)  

Ana Mederos Blanco
Drama Teacher
Coral Reef Senior High School
(Miami, FL)

Toby Orenstein
Founder and Artistic Director
Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts
(Columbia, MD)

Cheryl Penland
Theatre Arts Teacher/Fine Arts Department Chair
Trimble Tech High School
(Fort Worth, TX)

Troy Powell
Union Public Schools Director of Theater
Union High School
(Tulsa, OK)

A. Lorraine Robinson
Senior Director of Programs
Sitar Arts Center
(Washington, DC)

Larry Robinson
Drama Teacher
Central Academy of Technology and Arts
(Monroe, NC)

Greg Shaw
Theatre Teacher
Pittsburg High School
(Pittsburg, KS)

Wendell Tabb
Hillside High School
(Durham, NC)

Betty Walpert
Theater Director and Teacher
Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School
(Augusta, GA)

Rhonda Wilson
Artistic Director
Star Center Children's Theatre, Inc
(Gainesville, FL)




2016 Winner

Marilyn McCormick

Drama Teacher/Director,
Cass Technical High School
Detroit, MI

Marilyn McCormick


2016 Finalists

Kevin G. Coleman

Director of Education
Shakespeare & Company
Lenox, MA

Kevin G. Coleman


Sarah Crowell

Artistic Director
Destiny Arts Center
Oakland, CA

Sarah Crowell


Honorable Mention


Mark Accardi
8th Grade Special Education Teacher
Montgomery Upper Middle School
Skillman, NJ

Beth Baur
Memorial High School
West New York, NJ

Dana Brazil
Director of Education
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Orlando, FL

Maryjane Burton
Competitive Drama Teacher/Drama 1 and 9 Teacher/
Performing Arts Center Director
Choctaw High School
Choctaw, OK

James Russell Cooper
Director of Choirs & Theatre
Henry County High School
New Castle, KY

Gwendolyn Couch
Chatham Hall
Chatham, VA

Harry Dietzler
Executive and Artistic Director
(Upper Darby Performing Arts Center)
and Founder & Executive Director
(Upper Darby Summer Stage)
Upper Darby, PA

Allison Galker
Edward R. Murrow High School
Brooklyn, NY

Rachel Harry
Theatre Teacher
Hood River Valley High School
Hood River, OR

Kevin Hauge
Artistic Director
Children’s Musical Theater San Jose
San Jose, CA

Nancy Lee
Director of Arts Programming
High School
Minneapolis, MN

Heather Ling
Theatre Arts and Speech Teacher
Montgomery Junior High School
Montgomery, TX

David Montee
Instructor of Theatre
Interlochen Arts 
Interlochen, MI

Ryan Olson
Bard High School Early College
Queens, NY

Toby Orenstein
Founder and Artistic Director
Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts
Columbia, MD

Troy Powell
Director of Theatre
Union High School
Tulsa, OK

Sarah Reinhardt
Program Director/Artistic Director
Cypress Academy of Performing Arts
Houston, TX

Pat Sanders
MLS Theatre Company
Amherst, OH

Holly Stanfield
Bradford High School/KUSD Theatre Arts
Kenosha, WI

Rhonda Wilson
Artistic Director/Founder and Media Specialist
Star Center Children’s Theatre,Inc.
Gainesville, FL


The recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Theatre Education Award was Corey Mitchell, Theater Arts Teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C.


Marianne Adams, Director of Education at the Grandstreet Theatre School in Helena, Montana

Donald Hicken, Theatre Department Director at the Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore, Md


The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University

Revised Monday, 25 February, 2019