On December 4, Lehi High School drama teacher, Mindy Nelsen, was named Utah High School Activities Association Theatre Educator of the Year. It was not surprising given the accolades Nelsen has received over her 18 years at Lehi.
Nelsen has directed over 85 shows over her 18 years. In an interview with the popular teacher, she said she couldn’t have done what she has done without the help of her extraordinary team. She said Randy Blackburn’s sets are beyond compare, as are Cheryl Allgaier’s choreography and Katie Allen’s music. “We have a great team here at Lehi,” she said.
When asked what her favorite production has been, she hesitated and looked at all the posters lining the walls of the Green Room. “Maybe ‘Children of Eden’ and ‘Pippin,’ or maybe ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,’ because it was our last production in our old auditorium,” she thoughtfully said.
When asked about some interesting facts about her time at Lehi, she said, “I had two students who played Tevya and Golda in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ who went on to get married. I was excited about that. I also have one student who is now an actress on Broadway and has been written about in the New York Times. Another student is a stunt double for Chris Pratt, and two former students worked for the Jazz and now work for the Clippers. Other students have gone on to become teachers or work in the social science field.”
Her love for her students is evident, as she praised their work ethic and their ability to do difficult things when asked. Nelsen said there is a culture of kindness among the students she works with, and they support each other through many hard things.
“My students exemplify the best in all students. Some students even come back and help out after they have graduated,” she said.
Nelsen admits that sometimes she just has to unwind after a production is completed. “There was a time in my life when I wasn’t sure who I was, so I was told to get a pet. I got two dogs. I needed a reason to go home. They love me unconditionally and are so glad when they see me come home. They have been a life-changer for me.”
When asked about her greatest accomplishment, she laughed and said, “Still being here after 18 years. I love my colleagues and the support of my administrators. I am still excited to come to work every day.”
During the summer, Nelsen is the administrator for “Stadium of Fire”. “I have done this for 19 years. It is a multi-million dollar production, and I look for ways to employ my students and get them involved. It is a great resume builder for them.”
Randy Blackburn said of Nelsen, “She has dedicated her whole life to the program. She is there 24/7 — all for the kids.”