The Tony award that honors educators will go to Roshunda Jones-Kumba, a drama teacher in Texas that believes in the power of musical theater as a tool to change people for the better.
She is the theater director at G.W. Carver Magnet High School in Houston, and will be receiving the 2022 edition of the Excellence in Theater Education Award at the Tony Awards in New York City on June 12.
This award bestowed by the Tonys is given to educators from kindergarten to 12th grade who excel in their profession and who have “demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession”.
Jones-Kumba’s teaching focuses on the idea that theater is a space where everyone can be included. It is meant to be full of acceptance, and a practice that allows you to connect with other people who are different from you and overall become a better person. “Theatre is Life. I’m very grateful to The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University for this honor”, she said in a statement.
Judges from the panel who decided the winners include members of Carnegie Mellon, American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, among other leading figures in the theatre and entertainment industry. The prize includes a beautiful iconic Tony trophy, 10,000 dollars and two tickets for the official ceremony and gala in New York City.
This isn’t the first time Roshunda receives a prestigious award for her work as a theater teacher: she also received the Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teacher of the Year Award and the International Thespian Society Inspirational Theatre Educator Award, both in 2021.
She is widely recognized for advocating for arts education everywhere, for everyone. She has been teaching for 16 years and wishes to continue to spread her love for creating, for the stage and the positive impact it can have on her students’ lives. Many of her students have won competitions and awards under her tutelage.
The theater director was also inducted into the Texas Thespians Hall of Fame and also received the inaugural Arts Educator of the Year from the TUTS Leading Ladies organization in 2020. Other awards include being TxETA’s 2017 Educator of the Year and Aldine ISD Carver High School’s teacher of the year in 2009 and 2014.
“Theater changes lives. It can change the world because theater is a reflection of life,” Jones said in a statement. “It’s a safe place where you can express yourself and not be judged. The theater is a place to bring people together to engage, entertain, and enlighten.”