EWHS drama teacher honored at the Tony Awards

Bruce Mindt

The front office at Edmonds-Woodway High School was buzzing with the news; Mr. Bruce Mindt, the Theatre Arts teacher, has been recognized with an Honorable Mention for the National Excellence in Theatre Education Award, part of the annual Tony Awards.

“We wouldn’t have heard it from Bruce,” said Brenda McElroy who works in the front office.

Indeed, Mindt seems bashful and taken aback; “it was all a surprise to me. I didn’t know until a week ago Friday.” The Friday before the Tony Awards, his friend Peter Hodges, who organized the surprise nomination, held a reveal party for Mindt. “I showed up and here were all these people from my past. […] They sprung it on me. I’ve only known for a week and a half that I was even nominated, let alone that I was an honorable mention.”

The award is presented by the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. The organization stated, “This annual honor recognizes a K-12 theater educator in the United States who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. Over the past few months, several rounds of judging have taken place, with a final panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University, and other leaders from the theatre industry. Based on the strength and qualifications of your entry and materials, we are thrilled to award Mr. Bruce Mindt a 2023 Honorable Mention! His name and school will appear in the Tony Awards Playbill, and be featured on the Tony Award website.”

This year, seventeen educators were honored from a field of over 700 nominees from across the country.

Mindt next to a collage of photos of former students.

A group of community members and past students collaborated in nominating Mindt. The nomination illustrated his work as a member of the educational community at Edmonds- Woodway, his creative efforts to extend teaching and learning beyond the classroom, and his lasting impact on the lives of his students.

“The real value has come from the exceptionally nice things that my students have said about me as a teacher,” he said. “I do what I can to create a real comfortable, interesting, challenging space that’s filled with camaraderie and love. So that the kids feel like they have a place to be when they go to high school. So to hear them express the value they received by coming to Edmonds-Woodway High School is very humbling and a little hard to fathom, but immensely important.”

The nomination included a three-minute video telling Mindt’s story, created by past student Brandon Tiehen. It featured the voices of generations of graduates from Mindt’s theatre program, including film and TV actor Anna Faris, a graduate of Edmonds-Woodway and Mindt’s theatre program.

“I’m just a little shocked by the whole thing and certainly humbled by the whole experience and very thankful to my friends and former students, particularly Peter [Hodges] for putting it all together,” Mindt said.

Letters of support came from Edmonds-Woodway Principal Allison Chace Larsen, Edmonds Waterfront Center CEO Daniel Johnson and Lauren Paris, professional stage actor (AEA) and EWHS graduate.

Some excerpts from these letters reveal the depth of Mindt’s influence:

“Mr. Mindt believes in elevating student voice in their educational experience. While learning about the dramatic arts, they are encouraged to be creative, to develop empathy, and to capture human emotions into a cohesive performance. Students find a safe place in their theatre classes where they can grow to understand themselves as individuals. .. a valued member of the Edmonds-Woodway staff. Over the course of his career, he has served as a department chair and instructional leader. His work currently includes being the ASB advisor, developing our student leaders.

– Allison Chace Larsen, Principal, Edmonds-Woodway High School

“One thing that sets Bruce apart from other excellent teachers is that there is no ego. It is never about him; it’s about setting the stage to catch lightning in a bottle… Another defining characteristic of Bruce is that he deeply believes in students’ ability to be great… When youth and Bruce are involved, extraordinary things happen. “

– Daniel Johnson, CEO, Edmonds Waterfront Center

(Remembering a note that Mindt wrote to her upon graduation)

“His words sustained me on the college theatre scene into a professional career in theatre…Theatre is our life’s work, but it can also be a competitive, toxic, and deeply problematic industry…With Mindt’s perspective guiding me, I knew by age 17 that how I behaved offstage was far more important than how I performed on stage… ‘’

– Lauren Paris, Professional Stage Actor (AEA)  and EWHS graduate

What’s next for Mindt, “every year is filled with some kind of challenge,” he said. “We actually lost some funding for drama for next year, so that will be a challenge. I have a really strong group of kids within my play production class next year, so we’ll be doing three full length plays next year. I’m really looking forward to working with them on all of that. And just to continue the fun loving battle that is theatre with such amazing young people who keep me youthful.”

Mindt teaches about 90 students. 30 students take part in a play production group and the other 60 are in his beginning and advanced acting classes. “I try to create a theatre company here, where we’re all involved in everything from the very beginning. We pick the play together. They design the set, the costumes; they do all the work. I consider myself a teacher first and a director second. My job is to really teach them about what happens in the theatre, how the theatre works, all the different aspects of theatre, as well as how to be an actor. Then we put on a show and I direct it.”

Mindt on the Edmonds-Woodway High School Theater stage.

“There’s a few posters around here, but I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “It will be about close to 170 plays.” Mindt has spent 32 years teaching, 30 of them at Edmonds- Woodway. He grew up in Edmonds and went through school in the Edmonds School District. He attended the University of Washington, majoring in theatre and receiving his teaching degree. He joined the Edmonds School District in 1991, teaching English and theatre. He is married to Katherine Mindt, a teacher at Sherwood Elementary School, and the father of two, raised in Edmonds.

— By Elizabeth Murray

  1. Thank you for Mr. Mindt’s wonderful story. It’s a pleasure to hear good news for a change and what a joy he must be for his students. I’m delighted to be introduced to his great achievement. Again, thank you.

    1. Bruce,
      You are not only a superlative drama instructor but also a valued, kind and caring teacher of many students whose interests didn’t include being on stage. Thank you.
      Former colleague, Ginny Enstad

  2. I remember Bruce from our days at Meadowdale High School. He was a talent then and he continues to be exceptional now. Congratulations on this well deserved award.

  3. This is great news, and so well deserved! Mr. Mindt was a very important part of our son Casey’s experience at EWHS. How wonderful to see national recognition for a teacher who is talented, dedicated, caring, and a mentor to his students on and off the stage. Bravo!

    1. Congratulations to Mr Mindt! How exciting!
      His leadership and welcoming (but also straight forward & take no crap) approach was not only refreshing but also incredibly effective. His approach to teaching his students is somewhat magical. The students are empowered to step into creative spaces which they previously may have felt out of their comfort zone in an environment full of support, challenges, constructive criticism and full acceptance that is fostered by Mr. Mindt.
      My daughter flourished in his class over her 3 years and found her self-confidence and a love for Theatre Tech (lighting and costuming) in which she excelled. I attribute much of her enthusiasm for High School (a big turn around at that time) as well as her positive emotional and personal development to the experience she had and the friends she made in Play Pro with Mr. Mindt. Many of these friendships lasted over the years, even to this day!
      Thanks to Mr. Mindt, so well-deserved. Bravo!

  4. I worked with Bruce Mindt through my years at Edmonds Driftwood Players, and wish him hearty congratulations for the honor he has received — and is due. I have watched him with his students when they were looking for set pieces and for costumes amongst our many pieces, and was able to trust a bunch of teenagers turned loose because of the way they looked to him for advice and help. He has also trained drama teachers past and present, both as his students and as a student teacher mentor. It was always a pleasure to talk with him when he called looking for set pieces. He is a warm and compassionate human being, and brings out the best in all he works with. Thanks, Bruce!!

  5. Bruce,
    This is a well deserved honor for someone who genuinely loves his craft and cares so much about the students. You have touched and enriched lives every day. Congratulations!

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