Phaidra Atkinson’s world is the stage. The Corner Canyon High School‘s premier theater teacher for the past 14 years has led hundreds of Utah students to experience the magic of the stage, the thrill of performance, and the power of bringing a character to life.
“We all have our outlets. This is my passion,” Atkinson said of the theater. “I want to teach kids there is … a healthy outlet for them. They need a place where they can go and express themselves, live in another person’s shows, and cope with their own lives through these other characters. Theater makes you a better human being, because you are understanding people from a different perspective.”
For her dedication to the performing arts and excellence in education, Atkinson was named the 2013 UHSAA Theater Teacher of the Year. The award is provided to an honoree by his or her colleagues in Utah public schools. It follows Atkinson’s Best Director honors at the 2011 Utah High School Musical Theater Awards, and the 2011 Outstanding Service Award from the Utah Advisory Council of Theater Teachers (UACTT).
Atkinson has taught theatre education, stage technology, film studies, debate and speech at schools including Bear River, Brighton, and Highland high schools. She has served on boards of the Utah Theatre Association and the UHSAA, and has helped to organize and execute state and region drama competitions. Atkinson also founded the Utah Advisory Council of Theater Teachers, an organization that promotes professional development, networking and sharing among school theater teachers.
“I’m a huge advocate for teachers for theater teachers, especially,” Atkinson said. “We love our students, and I want teachers to feel supported, so we have a place to be and we are not alone.”