Vernon drama teacher wins prestigious award

Seaton’s Lana O’Brien earns Distinguished Service Award

Lana O’Brien is awarded a Distinguished Service Award from the Association of BC Drama Educators. (Submitted Photo)

Lana O’Brien is awarded a Distinguished Service Award from the Association of BC Drama Educators. (Submitted Photo)

A Vernon teacher’s theatrics have earned her prestigious provincial accolades.

The Association of BC Drama Educators (ABCDE) has awarded Lana O’Brien, drama teacher at W.L. Seaton Secondary, the ABCDE Simpson and Lynds Distinguished Service Award. This award is for an individual who is an advocate for drama in B.C. schools and whose work reflects the policies and goals of ABCDE.

“Lana O’Brien has a vision for what she wants to accomplish but has the ability to get her students to feel like they have ownership and have a voice in the creation of that vision,” Seaton principal Jeff Huggins said. “She takes the students in Grade 8 and draws them in to the program with choir. This choir becomes the grooming ground for her musical theatre productions. The choir runs outside of regular school hours and yet we have nearly 10 per cent of our school participating in the choir.”

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O’Brien has a passion for teaching and it shows as she speaks about what the award means to her and the importance of drama to students.

“I am overwhelmed by the outpouring support I have received from my peers, from writing letters of recommendations for the award to the congratulatory notes that have been sent since winning,” O’Brien said. “We forget the impact we can have on the students. Every drama program brings something to each student – a sense of community, an opportunity for learning and a creative space to explore and learn by doing.”

O’Brien says drama students learn what it means to be a human being.

“The students learn empathy, sensitivity and respect. The saying ‘walk a mile in their shoe’ is what we ask our drama students to do, and we push them further, to get into the character’s skin. It goes beyond just putting on a costume. They need to understand the reasons why a character has ended up in a certain situation and it helps them to understand motivation and emotion.”

“Every day is different,” O’Brien said. “We are always creating things we’ve never tested before. It’s fresh, new, and exciting all the time.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Fearsome theatrics at Armstrong’s Caravan Farm


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Lana O’Brien, on the set of the upcoming play, The Velveteen Rabbit. (School District 22 photo)

Lana O’Brien, on the set of the upcoming play, The Velveteen Rabbit. (School District 22 photo)