Eleven years ago Scott Lubinski and Jim Miller landed parts in the musical version of Meet Me in St. Louis at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton. Lubinski was cast as Alonzo, the patriarch of the Smith family, and Miller played his son, Lon.
Last Friday, Lubinski, an assistant professor of theatre at MSU Denver, and Miller, a 1997 theatre grad, shared the stage again. This time it was during the Alliance for Colorado Theatre convention where both were on hand to collect awards—Higher Education Theatre Educator of the Year for Lubinski and Colorado Elementary Theatre Educator of the Year for Miller.
“The awards to Scott Lubinski and Jimmy Miller by the Alliance for Colorado Theatre are a testament not only to their excellent skills and sustained dedication to students but also to their sustained commitment to theatre as equipment for living, a basic founding principle of the Theatre Department at MSU Denver,” says Chair Marilyn (Cookie) Hetzel, who received the Higher Education Theatre Educator of the Year award in 1994.
"I had the privilege of attending the Alliance for Colorado Theatre award ceremony," says Dean of Letters, Arts and Sciences Joan Foster. "I am still beaming with pride! It was another proud day for MSU Denver theatre and the arts!"
Lubinski, who is in his 12th year at MSU Denver, plays a number of roles at the University: He teaches classes in readers’ theatre, oral interpretation and musical theatre and is coordinator of the BFA musical theatre program. He also directs two shows a year.
His approach to teaching is not just to feed students information but to challenge them to assess and analyze it.
“To me what’s important is that a student is equipped with the ability to ask questions and to be intellectually stimulated by those questions and then take all of what they learn through that and apply it directly to performance,” he says.
Lubinksi says the award inspires him to work even harder. “I’ve always been one for excellence and getting students there; now I just feel even a stronger impetus to make that ever better.”
Miller has been acting professionally for most of his life and teaching for 15 years, initially as a substitute. He was hired full-time at Smedley Elementary in northwest Denver and returned to MSU Denver to complete the alternative licensure program.
He was at Smedley for 10 years and now teaches vocal music and drama at Greenwood Academy (kindergarten through eighth grade), also in Denver Public Schools.
Miller sees the performing arts as a vehicle to pass on life skills to his students. The stage demands accountability, time management and responsibility. “Especially in drama, you have to have so much collaboration and working together,” he says.
Miller still works professionally as a performer in two or three shows a year and as a costume designer, including for his alma mater. “I kind of run my classroom as a theatre,” he says. “My approach is not to treat it as a fluffy little specials class, but as a very serious part of the world and I treat them (student) as actors, even if they’re six-years-old. “
“I take it very seriously, but we have a lot of fun.”
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