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OPPY Award Winner 2009, Robin Bennett

Robin Bennett comes from a family background of theater and education, reaching from her grandmother to her two children. Trained at Michigan State, Carnegie-Mellon, Northwestern and Roosevelt Universities, she holds two Masters degrees in theater and fine arts. She has taught for 35 years at both the secondary and college levels, and has engaged in a lifetime of professional theater activities. She formed her own theatre/education company in 1995, which toured original, history-based plays to schools and universities and provided workshops for teachers. In 1998, she joined the faculty of Jones College Prep. Repeatedly, when the JCP curriculum changed, project-based learning rescued the fledgling theatre program. Robin re-imagined ways that high-quality theatre productions could be combined in the classroom with technology, history, writing and reading beyond the performance. While the highest artistic quality is always a goal, these productions also had collaborative connections that had students making podcasts, desktop publishing vodcasts, instructional videos and webpages while improving EPAS reading scores in classrooms across the curriculum. Inside JCPís engaging college prep curriculum, the theatre program has produced nine National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts Regional Winners and, last year, an NFAA National Winner in playwriting. Selective college programs like the Theatre BFA at UIUC actively recruit her students, who combine practical, hands-on learning with the college prep skills of theory, research, writing and analysis of a comprehensive range of dramatic literature.

In 2006, Robin was a Golden Apple finalist. Robin spends most summers in Ireland, writing. She has completed her second novel. She believes that pursuing her own projects feeds the work with her students and teaches them that their most important project is their lives.