Dordt College News

Schelhaas to receive Gold Medallion award

December 18, 2007


The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) has selected Jeri Schelhaas, instructor of theatre arts at Dordt College, to receive this year’s Region 5 Gold Medallion Award. The award ceremony will be held at the American College Theatre Festival in Omaha, NE, on January 25.

Schelhaas was nominated for this prestigious award by the Dordt College Theatre Department. Each of the eight regions of the KCACTF annually select one individual or organization from nominees, based on extraordinary contributions to the teaching/producing of theatre, and significant contributions to the development of collegiate level theatre art.

Dordt College is in Region 5 of the KCACTF, which includes Midwestern undergraduate and graduate theatre programs in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

“This is a high honor, and well deserved,” said John Kok, dean of the humanities at Dordt College. “Her passion for theatre and work on behalf of theatre deserve to be recognized.”

Schelhaas began directing plays soon after graduating from college, in 1967. In 1987 she added teaching to her job description, serving as a part-time instructor of Theatre Arts and English classes. She transitioned to full-time duties in 2001, when she became chair of the Theatre Arts Department.

Co-worker Teresa Ter Haar said in nominating Schelhaas that she “was an instrumental force in maintaining the continuity of the department and challenging the department to continue growing and developing.”

Ter Haar said students in Schelhaas’ Acting I and Introduction to Theatre classes benefit from her perspective, professionalism, and time, adding that Jeri goes beyond teaching to mentoring Dordt student playwrights and directors. “She has been willing to take on new classes as needed by the department. She doesn’t hesitate to work with students on challenging independent study projects, and she consistently chooses work to produce which challenges both our students and community to view theatre more seriously.”

Several of Dordt’s theatre productions have received ACTF regional awards under the direction of Schelhaas. The college’s fall 2003 production of All My Sons was invited to the regional festival in Denver, where adjudicators held it in consideration for the national Kennedy Center Award Festival. A commendation from the National Selection Team was presented to Schelhaas for her work as director in that production, with three Dordt students also receiving commendations for their work.

Regionally, Schelhaas has adjudicated shows, served as a first round judge, judged some of the special awards, and mentored ACTF award competition nominees.

Schelhaas plans to retire from her position at Dordt College at the close of this academic year.

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