Long-time Lompoc High School drama teacher Sarah Barthel was named the 2016 Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County. The award is the first of its kind, and was created in a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and the Santa Barbara Bowl through the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Education Outreach, which is dedicated to supporting performing arts in the community.
Barthel’s students will provide entertainment as part of the “A Salute to Teachers” program, a gala event recognizing seven award-winning educators from Santa Barbara County, which will be held at the historic Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. The event partners SBCEO with Cox Communications and a variety of sponsors. Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for 25 years in San Diego, and is honored to continue this great tradition of teacher recognition for Santa Barbara County educators.
Ms. Barthel is the director of the LHS Drama department, where she oversees all aspects of production — from set design to costuming to training and acting. She is also involved with Lompoc Civic Theatre (LCT), a community theatre organization which produces multiple dramatic presentations every year. She has encouraged a working relationship between LHS Drama and LCT, and the two organizations collaborate regularly on dramatic productions.
“I am truly honored to have been selected as the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County,” Barthel said. “It is a privilege to work with the students at Lompoc High School every day. I love being part of a process that helps them realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined, both onstage and off.”
Barthel, who lives in Lompoc with her husband, Paul, and their three sons, Ben, Noah, and Andrew, holds Bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Theatre from Bethany College, West Virginia, where she graduated summa cum laude. She completed her Master’s Degree in Education at Chapman University, California, in 2002. Barthel has been teaching at Lompoc High since 2000. Though she began as a full time math teacher, Barthel took over the drama program in the fall of 2002 and has had a split teaching assignment ever since.
Teachers often lose contact with their students after they graduate, and can be left to wonder about the impact they had on them in their formative years. Not so for Ms. Barthel, however. Says former student and current colleague at LHS, Alyssa Prieto, “Sarah Barthel has been one of the most influential people in my life. She was my Theater Arts teacher all four years of high school, and then became my master teacher throughout my year of student teaching.”
Barthel has also worked diligently to expose her students to the world outside of LHS Drama. She has led numerous class trips to the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, as well as two student trips to New York City. She also organizes opportunities for elementary students to see portions of LHS drama productions and engage students in “question and answer” sessions regarding various aspects of theatre. Through this outreach, Sarah is nurturing a passion for performing arts in a new generation of students who will hopefully grow and develop their interests as they approach high school age.
“Sarah’s passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the performing arts has inspired students of all ages to embrace, nurture, and support the arts in both their professional and personal lives,” says County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “We are deeply grateful to the Santa Barbara Bowl for partnering with our office on this important recognition, and sincerely appreciate Cox Communications’ sponsorship of “A Salute to Teachers,” where Sarah’s excellent work can be showcased for educators and community partners from around the county.”
Barthel’s students will be performing a musical medley and a monologue/performance piece from the Academy Award-winning film “Inherit the Wind.” Tickets to “A Salute to Teachers” are available by calling the Lobero box office at 963-0761 or visiting lobero.com.