Tonys Team With Carnegie Mellon U. to Honor Teachers

If you’ve ever thought your high school drama teacher deserved a Tony Award, now is your chance to make it happen. In an unprecedented move, the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards have teamed with Carnegie Mellon U. to present the Excellence in Theater Education Award.

Through March 31, submissions are being accepted at the Tony Awards’ website (tonyawards.com/educatoraward) where anyone can submit an educator teaching from kindergarten through senior year of high school for consideration.

The Tony Awards are encouraging people on social media to utilize the hashtag #NominateMyTeacher to spread the word.

The finalists will be notified May 8, given $1,000 for their schools and flown to New York to attend a Tony event. The top prize is $10,000 and a seat at the Tony Awards, where the winner will be recognized.

Those choosing to submit someone must complete the online nomination form and several other requirements. These include a photo of the nominee, three letters of reference and either a short video or 500-word essay on the person. According to the site, the idea is to communicate the story of why this teacher “has gone above and beyond in the field of theater education. For example, describe how the nominee has made a difference in the life of a student, school or community; or how he/she is working to advance and champion theater education in today’s landscape.”

To determine the winner, a panel of six judges has been assembled that represent the American Theater Wing, the Broadway League and Carnegie Mellon U. They are Tony winner Judith Light, a CMU alum; Peter Cooke, head of CMU’s School of Drama; Sue Frost, an executive committee member of the Broadway League; Nina Lannan, founder of Bespoke Theatricals and former chair of the Broadway League; Lawrence Otis Graham, author and American Theater Wing trustee; and Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group, American Theater Wing Advisory Committee member and the Broadway League executive committee member.

In a joint statement, president of the American Theater Wing Heather Hitchens and executive director of the Broadway League Charlotte St. Martin said: “This new award underscores our longstanding commitment to theater education. Innumerable Tony Award winners have thanked their teachers during acceptance speeches. Starting this year, we’re putting educators and their essential roles at center stage.”

In honor of such educators, the Tony Awards have put together a video showing acceptance speeches from the likes of Viola Davis, Bernadette Peters and Neil Patrick Harris thanking their respective teachers. The video is online at
http://youtu.be/ocqxVgUzckQ.

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