Announcing First Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teacher of the Year

Corey Mitchell from Charlotte, North Carolina

Corey Mitchell
Corey Mitchell (Photo credit: Bradley White)

(CINCINNATI—June 24, 2020)—Corey Mitchell, head of the musical theatre department of Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina is the recipient of the inaugural Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teacher of the Year Award presented by The ASCAP Foundation and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA). The annual award recognizes the highest level of achievement for a high school or middle school musical theatre teacher and comes with a $5,000 cash prize. This prestigious award is made possible by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation made in honor of Stephen Schwartz.

The award was presented personally by Stephen Schwartz and the award judges, lyricist/librettist Lynn Ahrens and composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa, as part of the Virtual International Thespian Festival on June 24. The presentation was hosted by Megan Hilty of NBC’s Smash, whose roles include Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked written by Schwartz.

“It's a tremendous honor to accept this on the behalf of so many teachers out there, because this is a crazy year, but somehow all of my theatre teacher friends are persevering through it and figuring out a way to make this happen even more,” said Mitchell in accepting the award. “From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of everybody that I work with now, and that I’ve worked with in the past, thank you so much. Thank you!”

Mitchell, a teacher for 25 years, is the recipient of multiple awards, including the first Excellence in Theatre Education Tony Award in 2015.

In nominating Mitchell for the award, Mean Girls star Renee Rapp recalled her former teacher’s drive for excellence. “He challenged us all to bring our best, never settle, and strive to keep getting better,” said Rapp. “He helped us understand not only the theater, but also the importance of our relationships in general, and he explained both were important skills regardless of the career path we chose.”

“One mark of a truly brilliant and dedicated teacher is that they know their students’ potential before the students know themselves. This was certainly my experience,” said playwright and composer James H. Kennedy, another former student. “He invests in his students’ artistic sustainability…and they are fierce advocates for theatre in every community they work in.”

Hear from Mitchell’s current students in this video.

“In reviewing nearly 100 nominations from 40 states, we clearly saw the impact and influence these dedicated teachers have on their students, and the ripple effect it has throughout those students’ lives,” said EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald. “We are so grateful to Stephen Schwartz and The ASCAP Foundation for making this recognition possible.”

Schwartz who is a three-time Oscar winner and four-time Grammy winner, was inspired to create the award to recognize the many ways that theatre teachers impact lives. “Theatre teachers help to not just bring theatre, but bring empathy and the ability to think, to work together as a group, and understand other people. These are things so desperately needed in our country right now that go way, way beyond theatre and musical theatre,” said Schwartz at a teacher conference last fall.

Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for the current Broadway smash hit Wicked as well as Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show and The Baker’s Wife. Schwartz has also worked in motion pictures, collaborating with composer Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted, Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Academy award winning film The Prince of Egypt. In addition to his awards, Schwartz has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A summer highlight for theatre students since 1941, the International Thespian Festival, produced by EdTA, went virtual this year with 60 hours of programming over five days, including performances, 50 workshops, a college fair with 45 schools, guest segments with more than 25 celebrities, and the inaugural International Thespian Excellence Awards—the ThespysTM. Virtual ITF is open to all theatre students from around the world, their teachers, parents, and families. Registration is still open; an all-access pass gives 90 days of access to the programming.

About the Educational Theatre Association, home of the International Thespian Society
The Educational Theatre Association is an international nonprofit association with more than 139,000 active members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education: honoring student achievement in theatre; supporting teachers by providing professional development, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. EdTA is the home of the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization established at nearly 5,000 schools, that has inducted more than 2.4 million theatre students since its founding in 1929. EdTA also produces the International Thespian Festival and publishes Dramatics magazine in print and online for high school theatre students, and Teaching Theatre, a journal for theatre education professionals. The Educational Theatre Foundation is the philanthropic arm of EdTA. Statement on diversity and inclusion.

About The ASCAP Foundation

Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States.



Cathy Halgas Nevins | ASCAP

cnevins (at)