Madeline Michel, a longtime drama teacher at Monticello High School, has won the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award and will be recognized nationally next month during the 73rd annual Tony Awards.
The award recognizes the top K-12 drama teacher and was founded by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University. The honor includes $10,000 for Monticello’s theater program and tickets to the Tony Awards and Gala.
Two students chosen by Michel will be given scholarships to Carnegie Mellon’s Drama Pre-College Program in summer 2020. CMU Drama professors also will teach her students a master class.
Michel has led the drama program at Monticello for more than a decade. She’s worked to make it more inclusive by performing “Memphis,” “In the Heights” and others. She’s also given students a voice through playwriting. Student-written productions including “#WhileBlack” and “A King’s Story” have centered on racial profiling and a police shooting, respectively.
Her students and the performances have won several awards over the years. Monticello senior Kayla Scott, who wrote “#WhileBlack,” placed first in playwriting at the Virginia Theater Association’s annual conference.
“This program is not about me, because it has to be about my students,” Michel said in a statement. “They are our future. They are the people that are going to change the world and make it better. These are the kids who give me so much hope in some very dark times.”
Albemarle schools Superintendent Matt Haas called the Tony Award an “extraordinary endorsement” of Michel.
“From her very first production at Monticello more than a decade ago, Madeline has insisted on students as the stars of her shows,” he said in a statement. “Not just as actors, singers or dancers, as talented as those students have been, but as writers, directors, choreographers and set designers.
“She has provided her students with powerful and fun learning opportunities by connecting them with the professionals who played their roles on Broadway. Most of all, Madeline’s productions serve among the most important missions of all art — to entice people to think deeply about important issues around community, equality, fairness and hopefulness.”
The Excellence in Theatre Education Award is in its fifth year. Last year, Melody Herzfeld, who taught drama at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was recognized. The school was the site of a mass shooting in which 17 people were killed.
A parent nominated Michel for the award, according to Albemarle County. She was selected for the award by a panel of judges composed of representatives of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, CMU and other leaders from the theater industry.
Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, said in a joint statement that they were honored to present the award to Michel.
“Today, more than ever, we need our local school auditoriums, their wonderfully creative students and courageous theatre educators like Madeline Michel to put powerful new ideas on stage and to share them,” they said.
Farnam Jahanian, president of CMU, said in a statement that the role of arts in education and in society has become more essential with each passing year.
“This year’s selection pays tribute to all drama teachers, Madeline Michel especially, who are making the world a better place by amplifying students’ voices through theatre,” he said.
The Tony Awards will air live on CBS starting at 8 p.m. June 9. The ceremony, held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, will be hosted by James Corden.