Awards lunch


Friday, September 14
12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Aspen Ballroom

Please join us during our Friday luncheon for the EdTA annual membership meeting, including an awards presentation and the results of the 2018 EdTA Board elections.


The Educational Theatre Association recognizes outstanding individuals who have gone above and beyond in their role as an administrator, demonstrating exemplary support for educational theatre. This year’s Administrator’s Awards go to: Cidonio Cantu, principal, Alice High School in Alice, Texas; Brett Davis, principal, Northwestern Middle School in Kokomo, Indiana; and Denise Swanger, principal, Mehlville Senior High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Principal Cantu at Alice High School, home to Thespian Troupe 5191, has a focus on making the school a safer environment for the students and teachers, and publicly supports the school’s theatrical productions by sharing positive information with parents, teachers, and the community. Dr. Cantu has worked to improve the physical environment of the school’s theatre complex, creating a safe and engaging environment for the theatre program, and provided new theatre equipment and resources. He is also cited for going above and beyond to make the theatre students feel special, attending rehearsals and performances, and providing positive feedback.

Principal Davis at Northwestern Middle School, home to Thespian Troupe 88930, has played a large role in the creation and sustainability of the school’s theatre program, creating a director stipend, starting a drama club in 2006, and chartering a Junior Thespian troupe in 2009. Since then, Davis has continued to support the program, providing updated equipment, encouraging participation in Indiana ITS Chapter activities, and supporting professional development opportunities for the theatre director, through EdTA. Davis has even played minor roles in theatre productions, and advocated for the addition of three theatre classes to the school curriculum.

Principal Swanger at Mehlville Senior High School, home to Thespian Troupe 5022, has advocated for several improvements to the school’s theatre department including the development of a state-of-the-art theatre space, expansion of the budget, student participation, and collaboration with the music department. Dr. Swanger supported professional development opportunities that led to the collaboration between the theatre and choir directors to produce a student production of 
Into the Woods. She goes above and beyond to support the program by attending and promoting performances, offering positive feedback, and recognizing students for their hard work and creativity.


The International Thespian Society annually recognizes up to three individuals who have inspired their students and dedicated themselves to providing high quality theatre education. Only inducted Thespians or Junior Thespians may nominate an educator. This year, the Inspirational Theatre Educator Awards go to: Kelly Carlson, Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland; Philip Lee “Peelee” Clark, West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia; and Carolyn Little, Toms River High School North in Toms River, New Jersey.

Kelly Carlson is the director of Troupe 2891. She encourages her students to persevere through challenges and constantly work to improve their craft as thespians. She facilitates collaboration and participation in all areas of theatre, and takes great care to ensure students are learning in a safe, positive environment, where they can feel comfortable enough to experiment, make bold choices, and learn from mistakes.

Sarah Jones, who nominated Carlson said, “She has so much confidence and faith in her students, and her interactions with us in our times of need are what truly classify her as an empathetic, prepared, charismatic theatre teacher.”

Peelee Clark is the director of Troupe 1899. He works diligently to give students the tools to succeed, not only in his program, but also in life beyond high school. He has actively sought out additional theatre opportunities for his students such as performing at the Kennedy Center, attending professional regional and Broadway productions, training with outside professionals in a wide variety of skills, and working with teaching artists at the Shakespeare and Folgers Theatres. Clark also encourages students to self-advocate and teaches them the critical importance of teamwork. He has helped many students prepare to pursue theatre in college and as a potential career.

Antonio Lemus, who nominated Clark said, “Mr. Clark motivates students to always work hard for things they really want whether it is in academics, as a student of theatre, or in outside pursuits. He pushes all students towards self-improvement and is a role model for everyone by showing his incredible work ethic and standards on a daily basis.”

Carolyn Little is the director of Troupe 7455. She goes above and beyond to support and encourage students to take on leadership roles in productions and teaches them to adapt to any situation they may encounter. Little uses theatre experiences to educate students and audiences, and to create a dialogue within the community. With each production she has partnered with an awareness or charitable organization relevant to the show’s theme, donating a portion of the ticket sales.

Luke Sulsenti, who nominated Little said, “It’s incredible what we manage to achieve with her guiding us. For 11 years she has overseen our drama department, and each year it improves as she always includes what she learns from us, and what she has learned from her experiences as Chapter director.”