Pittsburg teacher recognized with International Thespian Society award

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pittsburg High School theatre members celebrate Greg Shaw, who won the International Thespian Society Spirit of Thespis Award. It recognizes up to three schools or individuals that, when faced with a serious challenge, demonstrated grace under pressure.

Shaw accepted the award this evening, as part of a teacher tribute at the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival.

Students and others surprised him about the award on May 31st.

More from the Educational Theatre Association:

ITS, established in 1929, has 2.4 million members and is the honor society for middle and high school drama students. A thespian troupe is a group of students who have earned induction into the honor society. ITS is a program of the Educational Theatre Association.

Shaw serves as the director of Thespian Troupe 3149 at PHS. In recent years, he has taken numerous productions to Kansas Thespian Festival, including the 2020 opening show Pippin, the 2019 International Thespian Festival show Bring It On, which was also the Kansas Thespians All-State Musical, and the 2018 Kansas Thespian Festival and International Thespian Festival mainstage show, Urinetown.

Shaw, who earned his degree from Pittsburg State University, serves on the Kansas Thespians Board of Directors and on the Pittsburg Community Theatre Board of Directors. He has continued this service, and his teaching, during a difficult battle with brain cancer that began last year.

In nominating him for the award, Jennifer Morgan-Beauchat, director of Thespian Troupe 287 in Leavenworth, Kansas, described Shaw as being gritty, creative, determined, and a stalwart advocate for his students and program.

“He is considered by many to be a fine director, teacher, and friend,” she said, adding that she wishes the Spirit of Thespis Award “will offer hope and inspiration to an amazing person who represents theatre in our schools with grace and class.”

The award was presented on Friday, June 26, as part of a teacher tribute at the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival held June 22-26.

“This surprise was very special — and no one can usually surprise me!,” Shaw said. “I am very honored to have received the award. We always start every pre-show by saying, ‘if it falls pick it up, if someone falls, help them up.’ This award definitely exemplifies this motto.”

Shaw said he “couldn’t accept this without recognizing the team that helped me when my health was suffering: Jason Huffman, Chuck Boyles, Cooper Neil, Susan Laushman, Kimberly Arzoian, Julie Laflen, Andra Stefanoni, Ray Cornell, my daughter, McKenna, the drama mamas and papas, my students, the teachers and administration and I’m sure I’m missing some! None of our success has ever stemmed from luck. Hard work, talent and confidence in our team is what makes PHS Theatre thrive.”

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.