Righetti drama director wins Performing Arts Teacher of the Year

The Santa Barbara County Education Office Teachers Network will honor Righetti High School theater teacher and drama director Elesa Carlson—this year’s recipient of the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year award—during a ceremony on May 11 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.

click to enlarge Righetti drama director wins Performing Arts Teacher of the Year
Photo courtesy of Kenny Klein
Elesa Carlson

Righetti High School’s principal, Ted Lyon, nominated Carlson for the award, which includes a $500 honorarium from the Santa Barbara Bowl and two tickets to a future concert at the venue. Under Carlson’s leadership, the school’s performing arts program provides plays and musicals throughout the year. Carlson also teaches fine arts classes at the school.

In a press release from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, Lyon called Carlson “one of the most talented and humble educators I have encountered in my 31-year career in education.”

“Elesa inspires creativity in students as artists and actors,” Lyon said in the release. “She makes sure that students with disabilities, English learners, and those that struggle with a variety of other pressures at school or home have a place in the classroom.”

Carlson often collaborates with theater teachers from other high schools in the high school district, including with Pioneer Valley High School’s theater and technical theater drama club director, Selyn Harwin, to help produce recent productions of Chicago, Grease, and other district-wide productions.

“I truly love working at Righetti with such a wonderfully diverse group of students,” Carlson said in the release. “It’s been my personal mission to present spaces where all are welcome and to share the arts inclusively by offering opportunities big and small for them.”

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