Becca Jackson-York grew up around theater and wanting to perform for people.
Since becoming an educator, she’s taken a step back and taught her students how to be compassionate and creative.
Jackson-York, Gross Catholic High School’s theater, art and vocal music teacher, was awarded the Outstanding Educator Award from the Nebraska High School Theater Academy’s Seventh Annual Showcase.
Jackson-York said she’s “humbled” to be chosen for the award.
“I am over the moon,” she said. “There are lots and lots of incredible theater educators in Nebraska, and I just really appreciate the work that we do as a whole, and to be honored among my peers is overwhelming and exciting.”
Jackson-York’s only teaching job has been at Gross Catholic, where she started as the part-time theater teacher before moving to full-time.
“It’s been a joy to work alongside a board of administration who has really allowed our program to grow and flourish because they’re supportive of the arts, as well,” she said.
Jackson-York grew up in a theater-supportive family.
“My parents actually met doing a musical, so my family has always been into theater and they were very supportive of me wanting to be an actor,” she said.
Jackson-York received a degree in theater and music at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, and received her Master’s of Arts in education from Kaplan University.
Originally, Jackson-York wanted to pursue an opera career before switching to education.
“I realized how, although educators pour out so much for their students, it’s a really great pairing with also being a parent,” she said.
“I started out in music education and then when the opening at Gross happened, it was just the right time in my life.”
Besides education, Jackson-York has been involved in community theater and Opera Omaha.
“I enjoy theater education because I really value authenticity and empathy and compassion,” she said. “In so many ways, theater is an opportunity for us to truly stand in another person’s shoes, and you have to embody the life of someone else and you have to understand them so deeply and be willing to connect with that character to play out the way they would with their life.”
Jackson-York said it’s been “a blessing” to work at Gross.
“I love that we have a community within the school, I love that my students are so creative and compassionate and they care about each other,” she said. “Kids know they can come (to the theater) and be who they are. I think we built a great community together inside the theater.”