Jason Zembuch Young, a drama teacher from South Plantation High School in Plantation, won the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award on Sunday night during the Tony Awards in New York City.
Zembuch Young was honored for his exemplary efforts to broaden access to live theatre, most notably for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Each year, Zembuch Young produces two full-length mainstage productions, a play and a musical, in both voice and American Sign Language.
“As a high school theatre teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many students from different backgrounds with varying exceptionalities. When we are inclusive in the theatre, everyone is better for it. Everyone deserves to have a voice,” Zembuch Young said in a statement. “It is in the theatre that we have an opportunity to give our students a platform to use that voice, regardless of who they are, where they come from or what language they use to communicate.”
Helping others overcome a disability or life circumstances doesn’t stop when the school day ends for Zembuch Young. He and his husband, Michael, have fostered more than 35 abused and underprivileged children. He’s facilitated the adoption of foster children in his care and has become an adoptive parent himself. He offers free admission for foster families to all performances so they can experience live theatre.
A panel of theatre experts from the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League and Carnegie Mellon University selected Zembuch Young from a nationwide call for entries. The annual Excellence in Theatre Education Award was co-founded in 2014 by the Tony Awards and CMU to recognize top K-12 drama teachers and to celebrate arts education.
CMU alumna and “Into the Woods” actress Denée Benton, along with CMU president Farnam Jahanian and CMU School of Drama head Robert Ramirez, presented Zembuch Young with his award during the Tony Awards ceremony.
“Carnegie Mellon is thrilled to congratulate our alumna who earned Tony Awards this year, and we’re extremely proud of all those who received nominations,” said Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon University. “CMU is grateful to continue playing a critical role alongside the Broadway community in helping the art and business of theatre thrive.”
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