Tomball's White honored as state's top theater educator

Sherri Ryan White, a veteran theater educator at Lone Star College-Tomball was recently named as the recipient of the 2008 Community College Educator of the Year Award by the Texas Educational Theatre Association.

White has been teaching theater arts for some 26 years, all with the Lone Star College System (formerly the North Harris Montgomery Community College District). She began her career with the system at LSC-North Harris and has been with LSC-Tomball for six years.

White's students and their theatrical productions have won numerous awards over the years of her career and she herself has received Faculty Excellence Awards at both the North Harris and Tomball campuses. She received the Phi Rho Pi Distinguished Service Award in 2000, Phi Rho Pi Service Award in 1994 and the best director award from the American College Theatre Festival.

With the performances of her students, her teaching efforts have also gleaned honors such as American College Theatre Festival Best Play, Texas Junior College Speech and Theatre Association Play Festival Superior Award and other festivals, and two first place awards at national Interpretive Theatre competitions.

White holds an Associate of Arts from Texarkana Junior College, along with a Bachelor of Science from East Texas State University and a Master of Arts from Southwest Texas State University, both in theatre and speech.

The Community College Educator of the Year Award is White's first personal award on a statewide level.To win this award, a community college theater instructor must be nominated by his or her peers who are members of the Texas Educational Theatre Association. After nomination, each year's winner is picked by a selection committee, explained White."You can only win it once," she added. White learned that she had been nominated for the award, but winning came as a surprise, she said.
"I'm honored and thrilled," said White. "TETA is a wonderful organization that does a wonderful job. It's a big honor. I'm actually surprised and very, very honored."

As this award is designed to honor excellence in service and contributions to educational theater, it should come as no surprise that White is not only dedicated to teaching her students the many skills involved in theater and productions, she is also dedicated to the philosophy that the most important thing for her students is that they complete their educations."

My philosophy is education of the student is the most important thing and we need to give them the best we can offer - the best program and the best experience," said White.

Although her theater program at LSC-Tomball is somewhat limited by not having the larger theater facilities found at other colleges, White is very proud of the quality of productions that her students stage in the college's black box theater that seats about 100 people.There are currently about 25 committed students in the theater program at Tomball and the program's size allows her to offer her students a greater variety of experiences, said White.

"They can do more," she said. "They can be costume or lighting designers along with acting on the stage.

In announcing White's naming as this year's recipient of the award, Eric Wildman, Dean of Behavioral Science, Humanities and Social Science, said White "is very deserving of this award."

"She makes her Lone Star College - Tomball family very proud." said Wildman. White, who resides in Northampton with her husband Jack, will be honored at TETA's Theatrefest 2009 on Jan. 25 at the downtown Houston Hyatt Regency Hotel.
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Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including CyFair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, LCSC is the third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.