Local teacher receives theater award

Krystle Wagner • Sep 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM

COOPERSVILLE — An award sits on Sara Heacox’s desk alongside “Star Wars” and Shakespeare figurines.

It’s an award Heacox said her students like to see, and one that leaves her speechless and feeling honored.

Heacox, a Ferrysburg resident, received the Excellence in Musical Theatre Education Award from the Sutton Foster Ovation Award.

“The Sutton Foster Ovation Awards is a partnership with Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Broadway in Detroit and Broadway Grand Rapids, with additional support provided by Nancy Passanate,” according to a press release.

Heacox, 41, said what makes the recognition even more meaningful is that it was a student-led nomination.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing,” she said. “To feel like I’m impacting students that way is really flattering.”

Until she received an email congratulating her on the award, Heacox didn’t know students had nominated her.

In her 14th year of teaching, she has overseen the theater program at Coopersville High School for four years. Heacox said the school had a theater program established and she feels like they’ve expanded on it.

Heacox is a Spring Lake High School alumna, and participated in theater and choir during high school and college. She received her undergraduate degree in communications from Michigan State University. After working in marketing for four years, Heacox pursued a master’s degree in education from Grand Valley State University.

Heacox said she’s always loved theater and thought her experience in it had come to an end, until she saw an open position for an English teacher who would oversee the yearbook, theater program and broadcasting classes.

“It felt like the right place at the right time,” she said.

Heacox no longer teaches broadcasting classes.

As an educator, Heacox said she hopes to provide a safe and creative space for students. She said theater also helps students learn skills such as working with others and public speaking.

Whether or not students pursue a future in theater, she hopes they continue to keep it part of their lives.

“I want them to keep following their dreams and find ways to be creative,” she said.

Heacox and her students are beginning rehearsals for the production of “12 Angry Jurors.” The production is slated for Nov. 1-3 and 8-10 at Coopersville High School.

The spring musical, “Cinderella,” will take place March 7-9.

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