Upon graduating from Webster University in 1983, Lana Hagan started teaching drama and writing at Washington (Missouri) High School, which at the time had only a one-semester drama class and $15 in its drama budget.
Undaunted, Ms. Hagan spent the next thirteen years building a full curriculum of six drama classes and developing extracurricular programming that involved hundreds of students. She raised $2.5 million for a new state-of-the-art performing arts facility. When she left the school for a teaching position at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1997, the Washington High School drama department was $39,000 in the black and offered four scholarships to attend the Thespian Festival.
Ms. Hagan had chartered a Thespian troupe for the school in 1987, and the following June drove a busload of newly inducted Thespians to the Thespian Festival in Muncie, Indiana. At the time of her Hall of Fame induction she had attended twenty-four consecutive Festivals.
From 1993 to 1999, Ms. Hagan served as Missouri chapter director, restructuring the chapter and revising its board election procedures. The success of these changes prompted other chapters to adopt the Missouri chapter board and Missouri All-State Show models.
Ms. Hagan was a trainer for EdTA’s first national arts advocacy program, and also one of EdTA’s first leadership coaches. She worked with chapters in Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Montana, Utah, and the entire country of Canada.
In 2006 SIUE debuted a new theatre education degree program that she created.
Recognition for her contributions to theatre education include the EdTA Outstanding School Award for Washington High School in 1995, a 1983 Outstanding New Teacher of the Year award, and the 1999 Missouri Theatre Teacher of the Year award by the Missouri Teachers Association. There’s a Missouri Thespian scholarship named in her honor.