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 Convention for the award year.

Announcing the 2019 Winner

Congratulations, Jeremy Kisling!

2019 Tom Behm Chair Teresa Lee (left) with award recipient Jeremy Kisling (right). Saturday, March 2, 2019. Photo by Caitie McMekin.

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.

Application Guidelines

Applications for the 2020 award are not yet open; Details below subject to change. Applicants must submit a completed Application Form and supplemental materials in a single PDF format to the Tom Behm Award Committee Chair by Jan. 15, 2020.

  • 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 SETC Annual Convention.

For more information email Teresa Lee.

Recent Winners

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.