The Tony Awards, in conjunction with higher education partner Carnegie Mellon University, announced that Rachel Harry of Hood River, Oregon, has been named the third recipient of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Harry, a drama teacher at Hood River Valley High School, will receive her award at the 71st Annual Tony Awards June 11 at Radio City Music Hall.
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.” Judges included members of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University, and other leaders from the theatre industry.
Harry, who has taught theatre to students at Hood River Valley High School for 30 years, will receive $10,000 for her theatre program as well as round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations to attend the Tonys. She built the program along the way and created performances that frequently sell out at the high school and a larger middle school theatre with 1,100 seats.
“I feel strongly that my teaching should be student-driven. I want my students to explore and to reach and to fail, because all of those things—especially failure—will lead to new avenues of learning. And that makes for better people, more well-rounded people, whether you go into the theater business or not,” said Harry, who was an honorable mention for the Award in 2016, in a statement.
A former dancer, Harry is a native of northern Wisconsin. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and theatre at Central Washington University, where she also earned her master’s degree in theatre production. In addition to her Hood River teaching position, she is an instructor at Columbia Gorge Community College. Her philosophy on teaching, she said, is that her students must be given the ability to fully and actively create their own successes and failures.
“Rachel is an inspiration not only to her current students, but also to the alumni she continues to follow as they go out into the world. Her colleagues admire her for her selfless nature and for her work with her students. She is preparing well-rounded, responsible citizens for success in whatever fields they choose. She inspired us when we heard her story, and we are honored to present the Excellence in Theatre Education Award to her,” added Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing.
“One of the best experiences we have as the exclusive higher education partner of the Tony Awards is recognizing teachers, who inspire students every day to go out and make a difference. We think Rachel is an exemplary role model,” stated Dan J. Martin, dean, Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts.
For more information on the Tony Awards, visit TonyAwards.com.
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