Wade Norton, principal of Smith-Cotton High School, has been honored with the Administrator’s Award from the Educational Theatre Association (ETA) in recognition of his exemplary support for educational theatre. Norton is one of three administrators nationally to receive the honor this year.

According to a news release from ETA, Norton “has maintained a strong relationship with the theatre program since becoming principal in 2013. His support for theatre education is evident in his words and actions as he attends both performances and rehearsals. Principal Norton has also worked to improve the financial support of productions, enabling the tremendous growth from one production every other year to seven productions in the 2018-19 school year."

Teri Turner, S-C’s Director of Theatre, said the honor is well deserved.

“Mr. Norton’s support of the Smith-Cotton Theatre program has become the foundation of success that these kids needed to excel beyond the stage. When our students realize and understand that they have an administrator who believes in them and what they do, they become confident and proud theatre artists and this begins to transcend the classroom,” Turner said.

“We have a lot of opportunities that many central Missouri schools do not because we are very lucky to have Mr. Norton as a positive influence and supporter of the Smith-Cotton High School Department of Theatre and Thespian Troupe 4261,' Turner said.

Norton sees theatre education as a vital element in the mission of Smith-Cotton High School.
“I have had the pleasure to watch our drama departments at (the junior high and high school) reach so many kids and allow them to reach new heights on the stage,” he said.

“A lot of those kids reluctantly went to tryouts. They had a fear of rejection and a fear of stepping out on stage in front of their peers. Once they leave the stage, their horizons have been expanded. They have a stronger belief; they can now reach their goals and dreams. This growth also follows them back into the classroom setting and we see higher academic growth."

Family ties also play a role in Norton’s passion for theatre.

“My grandmother loved a good musical,” he said. “We would watch ‘The Sound of Music’ each Christmas and others at her house. So each time we take the stage, it is a silent honoring for my grandma. I know this would make her smile."

This year’s other recipients are Jon Bullock, executive director, Redmond Proficiency Academy in Redmond, Ore.; and Paul Griep, principal, Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Ark.