Tom Behm Award

The Tom Behm Award provides professional development funds to people working or studying in the field of Theatre for Youth to seek professional development — whether to attend a conference or to assist with education credits. Each year’s recipient receives $1000, a one-year membership to SETC, and registration to the SETC Teachers Institute and annual SETC Convention for the award year.

Application Deadline
December 1, 2022 at 11:59 PM ET

Application Requirements

  • Be a current working professional or graduate student in the field of theatre for youth
  • Provide details for proposed professional development
  • Personal letter outlining the proposed professional development and how it fits your objective
  • Headshot and short bio
  • Complete résumé
  • Two letters of support from a colleague/supervisor/professor

History of the Tom Behm Award

Tom Behm was a founder of SETC’s Theatre for Youth Festival and served as a Board Member and Theatre for Youth Division Chairman. He is Professor Emeritus from UNC Greensboro where he taught and directed for 34 years and founded the professional NC Theatre for Young People Touring Company. He is a published playwright and was active in all areas of theatre for youth nationally and internationally. The scholarship was established by John Spiegel, a former student of Behm’s, who initiated the award as a way of recognizing Behm’s tremendous impact as a teacher. The award was announced at the 2011 SETC Awards Banquet.

To contribute, send donations to SETC earmarked for the Tom Behm Award.

Award Guidelines

  • Applicants must submit a complete application online by the application deadline.
  • Applicants should indicate a specific program, conference or event at the time of submission for which funds will be used.
  • Award is open to any professional in the field or individual studying at the graduate level dedicated to youth theatre, nationally or internationally.
  • Award Funds are presented to the winner upon proof of professional development registration or enrollment.
  • Funds must be used within one year of the award announcement at the annual SETC Convention.

Application Materials

Submit the following materials via the online application by 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1, 2022:

  • Personal Letter outlining the proposed professional development and how it fits your objective (PDF)
  • Resume (PDF)
  • Two Letters of Support from colleagues, supervisors and/or professors (PDFs)

In addition to the application materials listed above, we will request the following materials for potential publicity:

  • Short bio (250 words or fewer) (PDF)
  • Headshot/photo (JPG or PNG)
  • Links to public social media profiles (optional)
  • Your preferred pronouns (optional)

One Winner Will Receive:

  • $1,000 for professional development
  • One-year SETC Membership
  • Registration for the 2023 Teachers Institute.
  • Registration for the 2023 SETC Convention.


For more information email Tom Behm Award Chair Kara Kindall.

Recent Winners

Kelleybrooke Brown ~ 2022 Award Winner

“For Kids, by kids!” As a teaching artist for over eleven years, this has been the phrase to which I adhere. It is my desire to instill a passion for not only the theatre arts, but also, for other avenues of expression. As an educator it is my responsibility to nurture the creative ideas and habits of my students, to give them opportunities to exceed their own expectations, feed their desires to be better artists, students, and positive contributors to our society. It is my hope that my students will learn to be bold in sharing both their artistic talents but also their faith.

As growing actors I want my students to be able to understand the basics of the craft. I want them to grow with a firm foundation of vocabulary, confidence, and a willingness to create. I will expect excellence with allowing room for mistakes. I will challenge them through dance, scene study, character development, play exploration, and creative drama. I will allow them to plan their own set and costume design and write their own stories. I will give them an opportunity to share with their peers and network with other student artists. I will teach them about sharing both their faith and their talent with the hope that people see Christ through them.

It is also my desire to make the arts accessible for all students with all types of abilities. Students who struggle academically or socially may find a home in the theatre. The main goal is to develop a circle of trust that highlights who we are as people with no artistic limits.

Why do I want to teach? Because I want to change the world one artist at a time. I want to positively influence a local culture and teach others how to do the same. I want to show the love of the arts God has planted in my soul and love others while doing that. God has called me to teach. He gave me the tools, the desire, and now the academic opportunity to pursue higher education

Sally Baker ~ 2021 Award Winner

Sally Baker, a Columbus, Georgia native, has served as the Education Director of the Springer Opera House since 2015. She attended the University of Georgia in Secondary English Education and Theatre and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Texas at Austin in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities. At UT-Austin, Sally received the prestigious Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship for her work with Arts Integration Education, the Drama For Schools program and schools in Victoria, Texas. Sally has nearly 10 years of classroom teaching experience as well as having taught for several years of the Springer Theatre Academy. She has also worked as an actor, teacher and education administrator for California Theatre Center in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Creative Action in Austin, Texas and Mad River Theatre Works in Ohio. She is the founder and director of the PAIR Program, an arts integration program working with schools across Georgia as well as the Director of the Springer Children’s Theatre, Theatre for the Very Young and the Springer Theatre Academy. Sally serves as Co-Chair of the Board for Teen Advisors and volunteers as a Sunday School teacher at Christ Community Church. She and her husband, Brad, have two children and live in Columbus.

Elizabeth Brendel Horn Headshot

Elizabeth Brendel Horn ~ 2020 Award Winner

Elizabeth Brendel Horn a theatre for youth educator, director, playwright, and applied theatre artist. Elizabeth is an Assistant Professor in Theatre for Young Audiences at the University of Central Florida in partnership with Orlando Repertory Theatre. Elizabeth’s credits as a director and teaching artist include the Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, GA), First Stage (Milwaukee, WI), Adventure Theatre (Glen Echo, MD), and The Coterie (Kansas City, MO). She is co-director of Act Out Justice, a collaboration of UCF and Orlando REP empowering youth in leadership and activism through devised interactive theatre for social change.

Previously, Elizabeth served as Artistic Director of the Timber Creek High School Thespians, where she directed MetamorphosesDoubtOedipus RexA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Rabbit Hole, among others.

Elizabeth serves on the boards of TYA/USA and Florida Theatre Conference and is published with Theatre Topics, TYA Today, Youth Theatre Journal, and Research in Drama Education. Elizabeth has three plays for high school students, adapted from or inspired by Greek classics: Elektra (available through YouthPLAYS), Medea, and Antigone and Ismene.

Headshot of Jeremy Kisling

Jeremy Kisling ~ 2019 Award Winner

Jeremy Kisling is the Associate Artistic Director in Charge of Education at Lexington Children’s Theatre. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and his M.F.A. in Drama and Theatre for Youth from the University of Texas at Austin.

Heidi Schoenenberger ~ 2018 Award Winner

Heidi Schoenenberger is a New Jersey native who specializes in engaging children and their caregivers in the arts. Heidi first studied Educational Theatre at New York University, but more recently completed her Master’s at Trinity College Dublin in Drama in Education. During her time in Ireland she completed research with Ireland’s national theatre based on the impact that live performance has on students and teachers in elementary schools. She is dedicated to the use of drama as a tool for learning and development. This award allowed her to present her research in Auckland, New Zealand at the 9th Annual International Drama in Education Research Institute. Read about Heidi’s Experience on her blog, and watch a video of her presentation.

Elena Velasco ~ 2017 Award Winner

Elena Velasco is a DC-based theatre artist who fervently believes that the exchange of cultural practices and traditions is essential to nurturing empathy and understanding. She is the Artistic Director of Convergence Theatre, a multidisciplinary performance collective dedicated to providing a voice for the voiceless, and the co-creator, director and resident artist for Óyeme, a theatre haven for unaccompanied minors and immigration advocacy professional touring company.  She is also a middle school theatre director for a progressive education community and serves as the American Alliance for Theatre and Education Youth Theatre Network Co-Chair. She earned her MFA in Directing and BA in Drama from Catholic University. Learn more at Thanks to the Tom Behm Scholarship, Ms. Velasco will present her workshop on multicultural theatre at the AATE conference in New Orleans this summer.

Julie Woods-Robinson ~ 2016 Award Winner

Julie Woods-Robinson is a teaching artist/performer/theatre-maker whose passion lies in helping students of all ages find their voice. Previously the Program Manager for Dramatic Education in Orlando, FL, she is currently pursuing her MFA in Theatre with a concentration in Theatre for Young Audiences at the University of Central Florida. She holds a BFA in Drama from New York University. Julie used the Tom Behm Scholarship to attend the 2016 ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in England where she presented a paper examining the use of digital storytelling as empowerment in young people.

Joanne Seelig ~ 2015 Award Winner

Joanne Seelig is a theater educator with 13 years of experience. Currently she is the Director of Education at Imagination Stage, a professional theater for young audiences, which reaches over 5000 youth annually with classes, community partnerships and school residencies. Previously Joanne worked at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Smithsonian. Joanne received her Masters in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


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