Tucson High drama teacher wins national award

Art Almquist recognized for dedication to high school arts education

Posted 07/25/16

Photo of Art Almquist

Tucson Unified School District is proud to announce that the Children's Theatre Foundation of America has named Art Almquist of Tucson High Magnet High School its 2016 Reba R. Robertson Outstanding Teacher of Drama. He will receive the award during a ceremony held by the foundation in Boston on July 29, 2016.

The award honors the memory of Reba R. Robertson, a public school teacher who devoted nearly 40 years to teaching high school drama, speech, and debate and recognizes teachers who follow enthusiastically in her path.

Mr. Almquist has spent the majority of his life involved with theater, teaching and performing. He is a native Tucsonan who grew up in Tucson Unified schools. He started acting at the age of 12, when he joined the Tom Thumb players, which was founded by Lee Strasberg student Lester Netszky. Inspired by Netszky and his own high school drama teacher, he decided to pursue theater education to help kids navigate the minefield of adolescence.

In 1996, he began teaching at Tucson High Magnet School, where he has taught acting and directed plays for 20 years. His program and plays have won numerous awards, as well as regularly being named one of the best high school theatres in America by the American High School Theatre Festival.

Art is also an avid film-lover and in 1998 won U.S. Satellite Broadcasting's "You Be the Movie Critic" contest; the award, judged by Gene Siskel, gave him the opportunity to host a nationwide movie review program for a year.

In 2008, he won Tucson's LUMIE Award for Arts Teacher of the Year, and his work as an actor has been recognized with local awards. He was most recently honored as the reader's choice for PEOPLE Magazine's 2013 Teacher of the Year. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and has worked in professional Improv Comedy groups for 25 years. He continues to act and perform in the Tucson community regularly.