Each year, EdTA recognizes International Thespian Society troupe directors, emeritus members, and other professional members who have dedicated themselves to the cause of theatre education for more than 20 years. Nominations for recognition are carefully reviewed by EdTA and are chosen using highly competitive criteria.The 2019 theatre educators to be inducted into the EdTA Hall of Fame include: James Thomas Bailey of Napa, California; Lynn Jensen of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Tony Matthes of Edina, Minnesota; Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat of Leavenworth, Kansas; and Robert Fowler of Chesterfield, Missouri. Ceremonies will take place in New York City at the 2019 EdTA National Conference.
James Thomas Bailey has served as a distinguished theatre educator for 33 years and is currently director of theatre and visual and performing arts at Justin-Siena High School in Napa, where he founded Thespian Troupe 7802. Bailey has proudly produced more than two dozen state conferences, two in collaboration with EdTA, and is the creator of the largest teen improvisational program in the U.S. He is past-president of the California Educational Theatre Association (CETA) and currently serves as cultural specialist for the U.S. State Department, teaching theatre techniques for conflict resolution in cooperation with the U.S. embassy in Cyprus. He is also the director and producer of the longest running theatrical production in Los Angeles history. “James is one of the strongest visionaries that I have ever had the chance to work with,” noted Amanda Swann of the California Educational Theatre Association.
Lynn Jensen began her journey as an educator in 1983, when she joined the faculty at Cedar Rapids LaSalle High School and revived a lapsed Thespian troupe. After the school’s closing in 1998, Jensen joined the staff of Jefferson High School and became the first woman to take the helm of their storied theater program, leading Thespian Troupe 561. In 1989, Jensen began serving on the Iowa Thespians board and was elected Iowa chapter director in 2009. Jensen is also proud to be the first female leader from Iowa elected to serve in her role with EdTA. Jensen’s inspirational teaching style empowered students – in fact, former student Matt Curtis of Disney Theatrical Productions wrote, “How can students express themselves fully onstage? How can we get them to invest deeply and own their actions? What is the magic formula that might unlock these authentic moments of artistic truth for young people? Perhaps the answer is people like Lynn.”
Tony Matthes is a distinguished educator with a Masters in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado and more than 29 years of experience working with theater students. Matthes served as the director of Troupe 1539 from 1997 until June 2018 and served as a board member of Theatre in the Round as well as the Guthrie Theater Educational Advisory, and successfully executed the first Minnesota Thespian Festival. Matthes is also a past chapter director, and a past treasurer of the chapter and is a currently serving as associate chapter director. He has directed or co-directed over 60-plus productions and has produced countless plays. For the past six years, Matthes has been honored to produce the Minnesota All State play/musical. Under Matthes’ direction, more than 55 of his students have been accepted to conservatories, BFAs, and prestigious theatre programs.
Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat has served many theatrical roles in her life, including: professional actor, designer, and director, but is most proud of her role as a teacher. Morgan-Beuchat chartered Troupe 6178 at Jefferson County North High School and has revitalized Troupe 287 in at Leavenworth Senior High School. In addition, Morgan-Beuchat served as director of children’s theatre for Arts and Humanities Councils in Southern Kansas and served on the Kansas Thespians board as advocacy liaison chair. She also serves on the Educational Theatre Association's Advocacy Leadership Network co-chairing the Rural and Small Schools Committee, the Educational Theatre Foundation Chapter Advisory Committee, and the cadre for EdTA's lesson plan adjudication. As treasurer for the Kansas Alliance for the Arts in Education, and one of the writers of the Kansas Theatre Curriculum, she has additional opportunities to serve students across the state. According to her nomination from State Representative Jeff Pittman, “Theatre had grown tired in this military town until Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat entered stage right. She brought a light and a vision that has led and inspired hundreds of students every year since she arrived. Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat's years of experience, knowledge, and talent all contribute to making our local high school theatre troupe a golden example of what a great program should be.”
Morgan-Beuchat’s Thespian troupe at Leavenworth Senior High School was also awarded EdTA’s 2019 Outstanding Impact Award for Theatre in Our Schools Month, and the school was recognized with EdTA’s 2019 Outstanding School Award.
Robert Fowler dedicated his life to education when he began teaching in 1972. Fowler has worked tirelessly to grow theatre programs and support students. Using his extensive expertise and knowledge, Fowler and his wife, Marti, developed the instructional series Practical Technical Theatre, which has been used in more than 2,000 schools worldwide. Fowler has received the EdTA Standing Ovation Award, President’s Award, awards from Arizona and Florida Thespians, and has been inducted into the Missouri Theatre Hall of Fame. In addition, Fowler was recognized as Missouri Theatre Educator of the Year. Fowler has also funded over $35,000 in theatre educational scholarships and has presented over 200 workshops at state and national conferences.