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Former THS drama teacher earns place in hall of fame


Larry Daw was recognized by the National Educational Theater Association for his decades of dedicated service to Tigard's theater students

A former Tigard High School teacher has been inducted into the hall of fame for great teachers.

Larry Daw, who taught at Tigard High School for 30 years before retiring in 1998, was inducted into the National Educational Theater Association’s Hall of Fame last week at a special ceremony in Cincinnati, Ohio.

NETA promotes and supports educational theater across the country. Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Larry Daw was placed in the National Educational Theater Association's Hall of Fame years after turning THS's theater department into one of the best in the nation.

The hall of fame is reserved for teachers who dedicated 20 years or more to working in educational theater.

“I didn’t ever think this could happen,” Daw said. “I knew that it existed, of course, but I was never so vain as to nominate myself. Mike (Fisher) surprised me.”

Daw was bitten by the acting bug as a boy, performing in high school theater productions. In college, he dabbled with working in TV commercials. As a teacher, Daw taught in Milton-Freewater, Eugene and Guam before settling at Tigard High, where he spent the majority of his career.

Daw was director of Theater Troupe 2833 in Tigard and prided himself on never performing the same musical twice during his career at THS.

Drama is the great equalizer, Daw said.

“The thing that I have always liked about teaching drama and directing shows is that you can have two students side by side, one is a D+ student and the other is a straight-A student, but in theater, they are on common ground,” Daw said. “Over the years, I had hundreds of students who would not have made it through high school had it not been for drama.”

Daw isn’t the only Portland-area theater teacher to make it into the hall of fame this year. Scott Walker of Milwaukie Academy of the Arts was also inducted, along with Kerry Onxley of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Daw was nominated by Michael Fisher, a drama teacher — a fellow NETA Hall of Fame recipient — who directs the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield.

“When I met Larry in the mid-’80s, he was teaching at Tigard High and was the mover and shaker extraordinaire of Oregon educational theater,” Fisher said. “His inclusion had been overlooked for far too long.”

Nominating people for the award takes a lot of work, Fisher said, including letters of recommendation from colleagues. At first, Fisher was worried about finding people, so long after Daw’s retirement, but people came out of the woodwork.

“It was so easy to find other theater teachers who know Larry after all he’s done,” Fisher said.

For all his accomplishments and awards, Daw’s real strength came from his devotion to his students, Fisher added.

“He has this laser focus on things, and he made sure that things happened,” Fisher said. “He’s very artistic, and his productions were always outstanding. But most of all, he had this vast ability to deal with the myriad of things that high school theater teachers have to deal with all the time.”

Fisher said Daw’s inclusion was a long time coming for the teacher who has affected so many lives in his long career.

“No one is more deserving of this than Larry,” Fisher said. “And, you can quote me on that.”