Roshunda Jones of G.W. Carver Magnet High School in Houston and Holly Stanfield of Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are the dual recipients of the second annual Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teacher of the Year Award presented by The ASCAP Foundation and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA). The award recognizes the highest level of achievement for a high school or middle school musical theatre teacher and comes with a $5,000 cash prize. This prestigious award is made possible by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation made in honor of Stephen Schwartz.
Because of the remarkable accolades of the two finalists, the ASCAP selection committee made the decision to honor both with the full award, which was presented by Stephen Schwartz and the award judges, lyricist/librettist Lynn Ahrens and composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa, June 24 as part of the virtual International Thespian Festival.
“Musical theatre has a unique way of bringing people together from different backgrounds and experiences to create theatre magic,” Jones commented. “I’m an advocate for arts education everywhere. It doesn’t matter how much funding or support you have; magic can be created with determination and creativity.”
In addition to numerous other accomplishments and awards, Jones has received an impressive 85 Tommy Tune Award nominations, winning 11 times over the course of her 16-year tenure as a theatre teacher. In nominating her for the award, colleague Jabari Collins said, “Jones believes in the notion that theatre changes lives and it can change the world, because theatre is a reflection of life. Teaching anything else would be unimaginable.”
Over the course of her 30-plus years teaching high school, Stanfield has received numerous awards, and has been named as a finalist twice for the Excellence in Theatre Education Tony Award®. “The support and engagement that I have found in EdTA have meant a lot to me,” she said. “The experiences our students have had at festival, in our home troupe, and in our state have changed them in ways they do not fully comprehend yet. What we do is important for our students and our communities. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of the community that we create with our craft. It is a privilege to be part of this vibrant and giving EdTA community.”
“EdTA appreciates the ASCAP Foundation and Mr. Schwartz’s dedication to supporting teachers,” said Julie Cohen Theobald, EdTA’s executive director. “And we are thrilled to be able to celebrate these equally deserving dual recipients of the Stephen Schwartz Award this year.”
Schwartz, who is a three-time Oscar winner and four-time Grammy winner, was inspired to create the award to recognize the many ways that theatre teachers impact lives. “Theatre teachers help to not just bring theatre, but bring empathy and the ability to think, to work together as a group, and understand other people. These are things so desperately needed in our country right now that go way, way beyond theatre and musical theatre,” Schwartz said when the award was founded.
Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for the current Broadway smash hit Wicked as well as Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show and The Baker’s Wife. Schwartz has also worked in motion pictures, collaborating with composer Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted, Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Academy Award-winning film The Prince of Egypt. In addition to his awards, Schwartz has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.