Ellison

Joseph Ellison is seen here at front and center with his 2019 Hawk Theatre Company.

Joseph Ellison, a teacher at Rio Rico High School and director of the school’s Hawk Theatre Company, has been awarded the Arizona Thespians Teacher of the Year Award for the south region.

“This award is given annually to a teacher that demonstrates exceptional courage and devotion to the Performing Arts Program at a school,” said Steve Abaroa of the Arizona Thespians Executive Board in an email notifying Ellison of the distinction. “It is a prestigious honor that recognizes the best of the best within our ranks.”

The award is typically presented at the annual State Thespian Festival, but the 2020 version of the event was cancelled. And while he was disappointed he would not be able to accept the award in person, Ellison expressed his gratitude for being recognized.

“Words cannot express the pride I feel for receiving this award,” he said. “I owe so much to my students and this award is a reflection on their hard work just as much as mine. Theatre is a collaboration of heart and soul and my students show that with trust and hard work you can truly bring out creation in any circumstance.”

Ellison has directed the Hawk Theatre Company for the past four years, leading them in productions of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a musical version of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” “She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition” and the Thornton Wilder classic “Our Town.”

RRHS Principal Hector Estrada called Ellison’s award “a tremendous accomplishment and recognition.”

“Both you and your students deserve this as you all epitomize the district mantra #SCV35AbovetheBar, with the attitude of, ‘The show must go on,’” Estrada said.

SCVUSD Superintendent David Verdugo recently interviewed Ellison as part of the #SCV35AboveTheBar profile series on the district’s YouTube channel. Click here to view it.

(From a news release submitted by Shannon Enciso of the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District.)

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