NEW YORK CITY: The Tony Awards organization has announced Rachel Harry as the recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Presented in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, the award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has made an impact on their students. Harry, who teaches high school in Hood River, Ore., will be honored at the 2017 Tony Awards on June 11.
Harry was nominated by her students and selected by a panel of judges from the American Theatre Wing, the Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University, and other leaders in the field. She will receive a cash prize of $10,000 in addition to airfare, hotel accommodations, and tickets to the Tony Awards.
“Rachel is an inspiration not only to her current students, but also to the alumni she continues to follow as they go out into the world,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, in a joint statement. “Her colleagues admire her for her selfless nature and for her work with her students. She is preparing well-rounded, responsible citizens for success in whatever fields they choose. She inspired us when we heard her story, and we are honored to present the Excellence in Theatre Education Award to her.”
Harry has been teaching at Hood River High School for 30 years, where she built the theatre program. She is also an instructor at Columbia Gorge Community College in Dalles, Ore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and theatre at Central Washington University, where she also earned a master’s degree in theatre production.
“I feel strongly that my teaching should be student-driven,” said Harry in a statement. “I want my students to explore and to reach and to fail, because all of those things—especially failure—will lead to new avenues of learning. And that makes for better people, more well-rounded people, whether you go into the theatre business or not.”