“I love teenagers. I love everything they’re going through. The drama that they experience. The roller-coaster ride. They come in as basically kids, and they leave as adults.” – Tony Award winning teacher, CWU alum Rachel Harry
We couldn’t be more proud of our alumnus, Rachel Harry.
Her students still affectionately call her “Krum,” a reflection of her former married surname, Krummel.
We call her the winning Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon recipient for Teachers with the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Rachel received her award at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, a June 11 event broadcast nationally on CBS.
Rachel also brought back a check for $10,000 from the Big Apple, benefitting the theatre department at Hood River Valley High School in Oregon. And it was her high school theatre students, who nominated Rachel for the Tony Award for excellence in teaching.
Rachel is more than an outstanding teacher of theatre arts. She is a role model. She overcame an emotional divorce and a stunning breast cancer diagnosis both in 2006, and yet she did not miss a day teaching her students or mentoring her children.
Rachel, who graduated from the University of Utah with a major in English and a minor in Theatre Arts, was first introduced to CWU at a 10-day summer theatre program. She was “blown away” by how much instruction could be packed into 12-14 hour instructional days, including sessions on movement, lighting design and methodology.
She later made the decision to make Ellensburg her summer home as she pursued her advanced degree from our Department of Theatre Arts.
“I Will Not Get a Degree, Just to Have a Degree” – Rachel Harry
Rachel’s tenacity was exhibited during the course of four consecutive summers between 2000– 2003, earning her master’s degree in theatre production. She didn’t strive for a master’s degree just to have an advanced degree on her wall. She sought our degree because it would enrich her ability to teach theatre, change the structure of her classes and refine/build the theatre curriculum at Hood River Valley High School.
Rachel is clear that she does not just focus on those who are the leading and supporting actors and actresses, but also on what she calls “theatre tech”, including lighting, sound, sets, direction and production.
She mixes a focus on professionalism for those who may pursue a career in theatre, either in front of the audience or behind the scenes in technology areas as well as choreographing and staging a Broadway show. She also takes a maternal approach to their students, caring for each and every one of them to help them succeed in life.
Rachel totally disagrees with the perception that a degree in Theatre Arts is a one-way ticket to back to mom and dad’s house. She points to a wide variety of job opportunities that come from an emphasis on theatre, particularly the logistics associated with staging at first-rate performance. Our graduates continue to prove her point year after year. We see graduates pursuing a broad range of industries: Entertainment, high-tech, education, and management..
As prior LaunchPad posts have emphasized, an undergraduate or graduate degree in liberal arts – including theatre – is in great demand because our students learn how to learn. Lifelong learning is not just in vogue, it is in great demand in our always-on, data-driven, digital world.
Our degrees produce successful alums. They also generate well-compensated professionals, who give back their communities. And in Rachel Harry’s case, they lead to the highest award in her industry, The Tony Award in Theatre Arts.
Well done “Krum,” well done.
By Scott Robinson