Faculty Member Sara Simons Receives Department of Theatre and Dance Teaching Excellence Award


August 2, 2021

Faculty member Dr. Sara Simons, Co-Area head and Assistant Professor of Instruction with the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities/UTeach area, has been recognized as the recipient of the 2020-2021 Department of Theatre and Dance Teaching Excellence Award, a prestigious teaching accolade that celebrates her contributions to student success within the department. This award is granted to educators within the Department of Theatre and Dance who go above and beyond in their work both in and out of the classroom. 

Dr. Sara M. Simons has spent over a decade working with youth and teachers in urban schools in Boston, New York City and Washington D.C. Prior to coming to Austin, Texas, she taught undergraduate and graduate preservice theatre teachers at Emerson College and New York University. She has also taught at several CUNY colleges and the Professional Performing Arts School in NYC. At NYU, Dr. Simons twice served as a co-facilitator of an intergroup dialogue on race, bringing together students from varying racial backgrounds to discuss issues of systematic oppression in education. Her teaching interests include theatre for social change, process drama, multicultural education and curriculum design. Dr. Simons is an assistant professor of instruction and co-head of the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities / UTeach Theatre program at The University of Texas at Austin.

In addition to her experience in theatre for youth and communities, Dr. Simons has conducted HIV behavioral research and served as the curriculum manager for Get Real, a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum developed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Get Real was recently designated an evidence-based program by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is now being taught worldwide. 

Her research interests include the intersection of sex education and theatre, the use of drama-based pedagogy in multicultural education, race and gender representation on stage, non-traditional casting and the experience of preservice teachers of color. in 2014, Dr. Simons received an NEH Summer Scholars Fellowship to study the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi during the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer. 

Dr. Simons has presented at conferences for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, the National Association for Multicultural Education and the American Educational Research Association. She currently serves as co-chair of the College/University/Reseach network for the American Alliance of Theatre and Education. Her research has been published in Youth Theatre Journal, TYA Today, The Journal of Applied Arts & Health and Annals of Behavioral Medicine. In 2014, she was awarded the Lorraine Hansberry Arts, Performance and Media award by NYU for her teaching about race in the arts. 

Dr. Simons has a B.A. from Wellesley College in Theatre and Women's Studies, an M.A. from Emerson College in Theatre Education and a Ph.D. from New York University in Educational Theatre.