Carnegie Mellon University
May 23, 2019

2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award Winner Creates Inclusive Environment

The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon Recognize Madeline Michel of Charlottesville, VA

Shawn Purdy / Rachael Trager
Pam Wigley
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • 412-268-1047

The Tony Awards announced today that Theater Director Madeline Michel from Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia, will receive the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award was co-founded in 2014 by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University to recognize top K-12 drama teachers and to celebrate arts education. Michel will receive her award at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 9, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Michel was a standout to the esteemed panel of judges, with stellar recommendations from Albemarle County Public School District, community leaders, parents and students alike. Her student-written and performed plays have won numerous regional awards, including this year's grand prize at the Virginia Theatre Conference. Among many accomplishments, it was Michel's creation of an inclusive drama program, inviting students from all walks of life, to express themselves freely onstage that resonated so strongly.

"This program is not about me, because it has to be about my students," Michel said. "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."

theatre-education-award-stage-1920x1442-min.jpgStudents perform "Once on This Island" at Monticello High School under Madeline Michel's direction.

The fundamentals of Michel's curriculum are student playwriting, productions that engage a diverse cast and crew, and community service. The Monticello High School Drama Department also has raised thousands of dollars annually for local charities and to fund college scholarships for economically challenged students.

Michel's drama program took on heightened resonance in 2017 when, in the aftermath of the Charlottesville rally, Michel and her students used theatre to address racial inequality, elevating and leading the conversation for a wounded community.

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated exemplary impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. A panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theatre industry selected Michel from finalists across the nation. Michel will receive $10,000 for Monticello High School's theater program and tickets to the Tony Awards and Gala. Michel's students also will receive a visiting Master Class taught by CMU Drama professors. Additionally, two students chosen by Michel will be given scholarships to the university's acclaimed Drama Pre-College Program in summer 2020.

"Theatre and arts education are fundamental to our educational system. 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. We're honored to present the Excellence in Theatre Education Award to Madeline this year," said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League.

"As we proudly mark the fifth anniversary of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, 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," said Carnegie Mellon President Farnam Jahanian.

The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 9. For more information on the Tony Awards, visit and and follow @TheTonyAwards on Instagram and Twitter.

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