The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University shine the spotlight on an educator every year. This year’s honoree is Rachel Harry, a drama teacher at Hood River Valley High School. She will take to the stage of Radio City Music Hall on Sunday to receive the $10,000 prize during the pre-telecast portion of the Tony Awards.
The mandate of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award is to recognize 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. A panel of judges drawn from the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University and other leaders from the theatre industry selected Harry from finalists across the nation.
Harry has been teaching students theater at Hood River Valley High School for 30 years. She built the program along the way and created performances that frequently sell out at the high school and a larger middle school theater with 1,100 seats. As she explained, “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.”
In making the announcement, Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said: “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 selfness nature and for her work with her students. She is preparing well-rounded, responsible citizens for success in whatever fields they choose.”