New SIUE faculty Van Leishout named to Educational Theatre Association National Hall of Fame

Theater education coordinator professor Leslie Van Leishout was named to Educational Theatre Association National Hall of Fame

Whether it’s the Socratic method of teaching that incites open discussion, learning new insights from students or mentoring theater education student teachers, Leslie Van Leishout, theater education coordinator professor, loves instructing the dramatic arts.

She has been teaching and performing in theater for approximately 30 years and her involvement has earned her induction into the 2013 Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) Hall of Fame.

Van Leishout said she was honored and humbled by the award.

“It is an outward expression of the work I have accomplished over the years and it has touched my heart to be nominated by EdTA’s Board of Directors who include giants in the professional and educational theatre world,” Van Leishout said.

According to the EdTA, Hall of Fame inductees are EdTA members who have been nominated for the honor and have dedicated 20 or more years of service to the cause of theatre education.

Van Leishout said she loves the interaction with students and hearing their thoughts during theater class.

“I think it’s a great day when they teach me something. Every day if different because students come in and they have a new idea,” she said.

According to Van Leishout, the SIUE theater department has impressed her since starting this fall.

“The SIUE students are incredibly innovative and imaginative at taking both direction individually or collectively and are able to vocally and physically portray amazing characters and moments between the characters,” Van Leishout said. “They have a really strong ability to relate in real ways to the audience.”

Van Leishout earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre education with six teaching endorsements: in drama/theatre, English, history, language arts, social studies and career and technical education from Brigham Young University. She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership from Seattle Pacific University.

She started her teaching career in Utah in 1980, then for 12 years in Washington State she served as education coordinator and directed students as young as six through the professional actors working for the Shakespeare Festival company. Also in Washington State, she worked with a school district’s office of the superintendent of public instruction to write state standards and assessments for pre-kindergarten-grade 12 theater education.

During her time there, Van Leishout won a Golden Apple Award while teaching at River Ridge High School in Olympia, Wash., in 2012. Her department at River Ridge received the Outstanding High School Theatre by EDTA in 2004 and 2012. She was named to the Washington State Thespian Hall of Fame in 2010.

She has played various roles such as the nurse in “Romeo and Juliet” and Medea in “Medea” by Euripides, an ancient Greek mythology play set in modern times.

She also spent a year at the Vancouver Film School writing curriculum and teaching beginning acting.

Currently, she is on the team writing the PreK-12 grade National Theatre Standards with the National Coalition of Core Art Standards, which partners with the College Board for research, the National Endowment for the Arts and other professional arts organizations.

EdTA executive director Julie Woffington said she has so much admiration for the passion she sees in the educators and members of EdTA and recognizes Van Leishout’s excellence in teaching.

“Leslie Van Leishout’s work, especially with the new writing of the National [Coalition] Core Art Standards, is an example of this passion,” Woffington said.  “I am excited to welcome her into the EdTA Hall of Fame.”


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