Robertson Award Recipients & Drama Teacher's Honor Roll

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Drama Teachers Honor Roll
We thank you. We remember you. We are changed because of your impact as a teacher, mentor, role model, and friend.
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Reba R. Robertson Award Recipients OUTSTANDING HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA TEACHERS - Public School
The award is named for Reba R. Robertson who taught at Waco High School in Waco, TX for her entire career. She was also a civic activist and community visionary with far-reaching influence. The Reba R. Robertson Awards were preceded in 2002 by the pilot grant, the William Wilson National Mentor’s Award to a Drama Teacher. $5500.00 was given to the teacher (Jo Beth Gonzalez) selected from 50 applicants. $1000.00 was given to the high school and expenses were paid for the teacher and school administrator to attend the conference and luncheon. After it was determined that there was interest in continuing this category of awards, money was raised to begin the Robertson Award in 2008. It has become a biennial award and it has been given to one deserving high school drama teacher applicant every other year.
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Jo Beth Gonzalez, in 2002 was the first recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Award for an outstanding high school drama teacher, then known as the Wilson Award. The first award was named after Mr. William Wilson and was called the 2002 Wilson National Mentor’s Award to a High School Drama Teacher.

Gonzalez earned her MFA in Directing from the University of Minnesota and Ph.D in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. She served as associate editor and editor of STAGE of the Art, a publication of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education from 1998-2002, and served the editorial board of AATE’s research publication Youth Theatre Journal. In 1998, she received the Distinguished Dissertation Award from AATE.

Gonzalez has been directing the Drama Program and teaches speech, theatre, and English at Bowling Green High School (Ohio) since 1993. Since receiving the award, she received the AATE’s 2005 Distinguished Research Award, has served on the steering committee of the College Board’s National Task Force for Arts Education, and participated in EdTA’s Critical Links Project. Most recently, her theatre students were honored to perform Jim Leonard’s Anatomy of Gray as a Featured Main Stage Performance at the 2013 International Thespian Festival.

THE AWARD: Gonzalez utilized the CTFA award money for her drama program by hiring the school district to construct a platform stage in the Theatre Studio (an oversized classroom) and ordered an 8x2’ promotional banner for the Drama Club that draws attention to its student-coined motto: Take Off Your Mask and Stay Awhile. With the award reserved for professional development, Gonzalez paid for the health insurance that was put on hold while taking a semester sabbatical to complete her book Temporary Stages: Departing From Tradition in High School Theatre Education (Heinemann 2006). The second edition, titled Temporary Stages II: Critically Oriented Drama Education, will be available this summer (Intellect 2013).

Jo Beth Gonzalez has since become a part of the CTFA Board of Trustees and served several years as chairperson for the Robertson Award Committee.
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John Newman, is the 2008 recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Reba R. Robertson Award for an outstanding public high school drama teacher. John Newman holds two masters degrees and a Ph.D. At the time of his award, he had been teaching theatre and mathematics, and running the theatre program, at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. Newman integrated his significant interest in developing new plays into the theatre program at HHS, which premiered more than a dozen new plays for young audiences and actors over six years. Newman’s program has been inclusive of many genres of theatre; in addition to new plays, HHS students produced at least one Broadway-style musical and one Shakespeare play per year. Newman has published several accounts of his approaches to young playwright development in national periodicals including Teaching Theatre, TYA Today, Stage of the Art, and AATE Dialogue. He has spearheaded efforts through the American Alliance for Theatre and Education Playwriting Network to connect student and professional writers through the Playwrights In Our Schools projects. In 2003, the project brought five established TYA playwrights into secondary schools in California, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and New York. The 2005 project enabled teachers from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana to participate in new play development labs and incorporate the techniques they observed in projects they later created at their own schools. In 2007, the project connected eight high school writers with professional mentors through three critiques of progressive drafts of their plays.

The 2008 Reba R. Robertson Award was presented at the CTFA Medallion Awards Luncheon, July 24, 2018, in Atlanta, GA. Jo Beth Gonzalez, Chair of the Robertson Award Committee, read the commendation and presented the award.

THE AWARD: With the award money to the school, Newman purchased “alphasmart” word processers that allowed him to teach playwriting to a handful of students within a section of other students enrolled in an advanced drama class. The money also helped to support the two-year script development of The Egypt Game by playwright Drew Chappell at Highland High School, which premiered as a youth production at Utah Valley University in 2011.

Newman put the personal award money into a special account that he reserved for professional development as an actor, director, and playwright. He used the money to visit theatres and attend events and conferences around the country. In 2008, for example, Newman to travelled to Austin, Texas where he observed the work of Pollyanna Theatre Company and outlined a book on new play development with Judy Matetzschk-Campbell.
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Julia Perlowski, Director of Theatre Programs at Pompano Beach High School in Boca Raton, Florida, is the 2010 recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Reba R. Robertson Award for an outstanding public high school drama teacher. Ms. Perlowski earned an MA in Women's Studies from York University, Great Britain, and a BA in English Languages and Literature from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. Ms. Perlowski serves on the leadership team of state and national committees including the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library and the South Florida Writing Project (SFWP) and is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to study with the Folger Shakespeare Library (2007) and the South Florida English Speaking Union scholarship to work and study at the Globe in London (2009). She has several publications in the Folger Shakespeare Library's Primary Source Teaching Ideas, and is a frequent presenter for professional development and theatre workshops in Florida and New York.

Perlowski created both the drama and Shakespeare programs at PBHS. Also actively committed to increasing literacy, Perlowski's remedial students have gained 75% increase in learning.

Nominator Grace Kelly commented, "As a guidance counselor and ESE Specialist, I am particularly impressed with Ms. Perlowski's ability to provide meaningful academic and social experiences for a number of Special Education students struggling in both arenas. In a relatively short period of time, Ms. Perlowski is able to transition these students into integral, respected members of the drama programs. In one particular case, she took a student displaying little interest in school, with hardly any friends, and helped him earn the Best Featured Actor Award for the 2009 South CAPPIES season. There have been many other instances of her success with Special Education students."

Most recently, Perlowski has undertaken a project called Witness Theatre in partnership with Florida Atlantic University, in which she facilitated a theatre piece with fifteen teens and fifteen survivors of the Kinder-Transport*. Teens and older adults worked together to explore the commonalities and differences in their histories. This process culminated in an original performance that shaped their discoveries in dramatic form.

Perlowski's interest in intergenerational work has led to her dialogue with troupe members at the Tisch School of the Arts with whom she hopes to intern. The grant will help her develop curriculum for conducting intergenerational work at the high school level.

The 2010 Reba R. Robertson Award was presented at the CTFA Medallion Awards Luncheon, August 6, 2010, in San Francisco. Jo Beth Gonzalez, Chair of the Robertson Award Committee, read the commendation and presented the award.
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Kristi L. Fuller, Thespian Troupe Director and theatre teacher at Indian RIver High School in Philadelphis, New York, is the 2012 recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Reba R. Robertson Award for an outstanding public high school drama teacher.The bi-annual honor is sponsored by the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Fuller received $1,000 for her theatre program and $6,000 for professional development during the CTFA Corey Medallion Award Luncheon during August 2012 at the Lexington Opera House, held in conjunction with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education national conference.

Fuller has chaired the Curriculum Committee for the New York State Theatre Education Association. She also served on the Theatre Content Advisory Committee for the State Education Department and National Evaluation System, which developed theatre test items for the teacher certification test in Theatre. Honors include EdTA’s Outstanding School Award in Theatre in 2007. Fuller’s students have been trained as HIV/AIDS Peer Educators. Other social advocacy projects include collaborating with professional playwright Craig Thornton to create a docu-drama titled In My Shoes about the effects of military life and deployment on the students of the 10th Mountain Division. With her award, Fuller plans to help her students explore the theatre arts connections between hearing and hearing-impaired communities.

The 2012 Reba R. Robertson Award was presented at the CTFA Medallion Awards Luncheon, August 10, 2012, in Lexington, KY. Jo Beth Gonzalez, Chair of the Robertson Award Committee, read the commendation and presented the award.
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Holly Stanfield, a theatre teacher at Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is the 2014 recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Reba R. Robertson Award for an outstanding public high school drama teacher. The bi-annual honor is sponsored by the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Fuller received a grant for her theatre program and funding for professional development during the CTFA Corey Medallion Award Luncheon during August 2014 at the Grand Hyatt-Denver, held in conjunction with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education national conference.

She has been honored as Kenosha Teacher of the Year, a Herb Kohl Fellow and Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. In the 20-plus years she has been at Bradford, she has directed over 100 musical theatre productions on a middle and high school level. She has also directed staged readings of new Broadway Junior and high school scripts for iTheatrics in New York City, NY for the past five summers including High School Musical 2 Junior, Fame Junior, Hairspray Junior, Emmet Otter Junior and Wonderland High. She and her students have received numerous awards and recognitions from the Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival and the International Thespian Festival. In addition, Music Theatre International has commissioned her to record a number of Student Edition Cast Recordings with her students at Bradford.

THE AWARD: Stanfield would like to use the grant money from the Robertson Award to explore various technologies to make a joint production with fellow artists in Beijing, a possibility. Ultimately, we would love to share this production with our American audiences at the International Thespian Festival.

The 2014 Reba R. Robertson Award was presented at the CTFA Medallion Awards Event, August 1, 2014, in Denver, CO. Lorenzo Garcia, CTFA Board Trustee, read the commendation and presented the award.
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Art Almquist, a theatre teacher at Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona, will be the 2016 recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Reba R. Robertson Award for an outstanding public high school drama teacher. The bi-annual honor is sponsored by the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Almquist received a grant for his theatre program and funding for professional development during the CTFA Corey Medallion Award Luncheon, Friday, July 29, 2016, Boston Park Plaza Hotel, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, Massachusetts, held in conjunction with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education national conference.

Art Almquist has spent the majority of his life involved with the theatre and performing. He started acting thirty-six years ago at the age of twelve when, after numerous failed attempts at doing anything athletic, he joined the Tom Thumb players, which was founded by Lee Strasberg student Lester Netszky. Inspired by Netszky and his own high school drama teacher, he decided to pursue theatre education to help kids navigate the minefield of adolescence.

He holds a BA in English/Education from Vassar College (1989), and an MFA in Acting/MA in Performance Theory and Criticism from the University of Montana (1996). While at Vassar, he was chosen to teach Drama and English for six months at the Clifden Community School in County Galway, Ireland, where he also created acting classes for adults. After his undergraduate work, he taught Drama and English at the Marvelwood School in Cornwall, Connecticut for three years, building a thriving and popular theatre program out of a few dollars and an empty A/V room.

After completing graduate school in 1996, he came to Tucson High Magnet School, where he has taught Acting and directed plays for 20 years. His program and plays have won numerous awards, as well as regularly being named one of the best high school theatres in America by the American High School Theatre Festival. Art is also an avid film-lover, and in 1998 won U.S. Satellite Broadcasting's "You Be the Movie Critic" contest; the award, judged by Gene Siskel, gave him the opportunity to host a nationwide movie review program for a year.

In 2008, he won Tucson's LUMIE Award for Arts Teacher of the Year, and his work as an actor has been recognized with local awards. He was most recently honored as the reader's choice for PEOPLE Magazine's 2013 Teacher of the Year. He is a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, and has worked in professional Improv Comedy groups for twenty-five years. He continues to act and perform in the Tucson community regularly.

THE AWARD: Almquist will share his vision of how he will use the award. TBA

The 2016 Reba R. Robertson Award was presented at the CTFA Medallion Awards Event, July 29, 2016, in Boston, JoBeth Gonzalez, CTFA Board Trustee, read the commendation and presented the award.
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Adam Slee a high school theatre teacher at DaVinci Academy, a public charter school in downtown Ogden, UT., is the 2018 recipient of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America's Reba R. Robertson Award for an outstanding public high school drama teacher.
The bi-annual honor is sponsored by the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Slee received a grant for his theatre program and funding for professional development during the CTFA Corey Medallion Award Luncheon,
August 2, 2018, Hyatt Regency, Nicolette Mall, Minneapolis, MN, held in conjunction with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education national conference.

DaVinci Academy promotes authentic dialogue about race, culture, and disability that embraces the complexity of underlying social and historical issues and advocates for full inclusion of artists of color and performers with disabilities.

The theatre program’s work reflects this mission and creates community outreach projects that service disadvantaged populations through All Access Arts and its free ticket program. Mr. Slee understands the challenges faced by his disadvantaged teens. Homeless at 16, he survived and then thrived, in great part by the support of others. Having learned to value the gift of giving, today he works by giving to his students.

Since working at DaVinci Academy, Mr. Slee has
-Hosted playwrights Ric Averill (2013) and Max Bush (2014) in the AATE Playwrights in Our Schools program.

-Trained his students to become skillful and independent playwrights. For the last three years, students have submitted scripts to the Utah Young Playwrights for Change All three years; they have become finalists and participated in a “Day of Dramaturgy” event. Adam has become a mentor of student playwrights with a national reputation.

-Created with his students a theatre piece about individuals who came to or passed through Ogden, Utah during the building and construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Mr. Slee and his students are conducting original research, scripting the text, and performing the resulting plays that will make up the theatre piece as a whole. As with all of Mr. Slee’s theatre projects, the project involves teachers and students across the curriculum at his school.

-Developed a theatre program that is student-centered. The majority of most season’s offering are original works that are not only performed but are also designed by his well-trained students.

-Undertaken a leadership role as the Utah Thespian Chapter Director. This position will require overseeing a student leadership conference and a student competition that will benefit students across the state.

-Utilized his financial and logistical skills to make it possible for students to travel and perform/learn in New York City and Edinburgh, Scotland.


THE AWARD: With the Robertson funds, Adam Slee plans to explore, develop and launch a theatre program aimed to engage the disadvantaged population in Ogden, Utah. By visiting programs, such as the one run by Roundabout Theatre in New York City and attending trainings offered through their theatre and others like it, he hopes to gain the knowledge and skills needed to successfully develop his vision for a similar program for the population in his city.
The money allocated for DaVinci Academy will be used to assist low income students who would like to participate in the Annual Shakespeare Festival but are unable to due to financial restraints. Funds will provide 20 students with the opportunity to attend the festival for a weekend where they will see shows, participate in master classes and be able to compete alongside peers in the competition portion of the festival.

The 2018 Reba R. Robertson Award was presented at the CTFA Medallion Awards Event, August 2, 2018, in Minneapolis, MN. JoBeth Gonzalez, CTFA Board Trustee, read the commendation and presented the award.