SDA's Outstanding Achievement Award

2018 Recipients

Bradley Hayward – Toronto

Bradley Hayward has been involved with the Saskatchewan Drama Association for over 25 years, first as a student and now as an adult. He grew up in Oxbow and acted in his very first SDA Drama Festival way back in 1993. From that moment forward, he was hooked on the theatre. He continued to participate in drama festivals as an actor, director, playwright and stage manager, winning many awards for multiple disciplines, including the Mary Ellen Burgess Award two years in a row. He performed at the 1997 Provincial Festival in The Flattering Word. He graduated from high school in 1998 and went on to get a degree in screenwriting; however, he never lost his passion for high school theatre and eventually turned his attention to writing plays for students.

Currently, Bradley has written 62 published plays that have been produced all around the world, including dozens of productions at various regional festivals across Saskatchewan. His plays I Don’t Want to Talk About It, Selfie, Laughing Stock, Epic Fail, Drama Geeks and Vamp Ire have all advanced to the Provincial Festival. In addition to writing, Bradley has worked for the SDA as a front-of-house adjudicator at many regional festivals, twice been the front-of-house clinician at the Middle Years Festival, and has facilitated many acting and writing workshops. This is his 11th year in a row attending the Provincial Drama Festival and it is, hands down, his favourite weekend of the year. He is profoundly inspired by the high level of talent and enthusiasm of the students he encounters each year, and hopes to continue being a part of SDA festivals for many more years to come.

Bill Shiers – Florida

Bill got his start acting, stage managing and directing SDA competitive one-act festivals over 30 years ago in Moose Jaw. After graduating, Bill has spent countless hours volunteering, directing, adjudicating (front and back of house) and serving as a Board member for the SDA.

Bill served as a stage manager and director for numerous productions (both competitive and non-competitive) as well as directing and producing numerous SCTI (Theatre Saskatchewan) productions having won several awards, including Best Director. Bill has over 25 years of experience working as an adjudicator for the Saskatchewan Drama Association. Bill is currently working as a software architect and information systems auditor for a major insurance company in the U.S. Bill is a past President of the Jacksonville Pipes and Drums and is currently one of the core startup members for the Southern United Pipe Band.

Although Bill moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2000, he still makes a point of traveling back to Saskatchewan every year to adjudicate for the SDA. While he may joke that he comes back for a taste of winter, given the chance, he’ll tell you that it’s because theatre is where his heart is. He loves to talk of the positive influence theatre, educators in theatre, and the SDA had on him, and how they continue to influence him even now—just ask him!

2017 Recipients


Dean Armstrong received his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Regina and became a passionate teacher in 2009. He took on a teaching role at Carrot River High School and changed the school and community! He taught several classes, English and History, and students gained a new appreciation through his exciting ways of delivering material during his years as a teacher and then principal at the school. Dean started the drama club -growing a valuable team for many students.

Dean gave so many kids a place to belong. Team Drama was not only a club, it became a family of students. Dean’s passion and drive built commitment and a desire in students to aim high and be confident in their abilities. In the short time at Carrot River High School, Team Drama became a force with multiple trips to Provincial competitions, annual entries in the Regional level and many community performances that were always sold out.

Lyndsay Moskal – White City

Lyndsay is a graduate of the University of Regina, Faculty of Education, Arts Education Program. She has facilitated several dance and visual arts workshops for students and teachers for Saskatchewan Drama and Regina Public School Division. She has danced in Dance Saskatchewan’s Dare to Dance in 2005 and 2006, at the Arts Connect Conference in 2005, and several other events. Her choreographed work “Fear Unraveled” was also accepted and performed at Dare to Dance and at the Crossing Boundaries Conference, University of Regina, in May 2007. She has attended workshops provided by Ballet Jazz de Montreal and Toronto Dance Theatre. She has also participated in Hip Hop, Kathak Dance, Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary Dance.

Lyndsay has also worked for Saskatchewan Drama Association during the Regional and Provincial Drama Festivals providing workshops and assistance to students and teacher participants. Lyndsay has entered at least one play in Middle Years Festival since it began in 2008. Lyndsay has been a member of SDA’s Board of Director and is currently the Education Chair. She has been instrumental in the development of the Dramalympics Kit and acquiring and maintaining a current stock of resources and scripts for SDA’s Mary Ellen Burgess Library. Lyndsay teaches Arts Education at Glen Elm Community School in Regina.


2016 Recipients

Lenore Bailey – Eatonia

Lenore was born in Yorkton but spent the majority of her teaching career at Eaton Elementary School in Eatonia, retiring in 2007. She taught Kindergarten to Grade One for most of those years. After her retirement, she often would substitute teach in many schools in the Division but most often at Eaton Elementary School.

During her teaching career, Lenore was heavily involved in the High School Drama Program at Eaton School. Lenore often entered two or three plays each year in the Regional One Act Festival, winning many awards and learning with her students more about drama each year. During her spare time, Lenore produced and directed 33 highly successful dinner theatre shows for the Eatonia Oasis Players from 2003 to 2013. When her husband Doug and her retired to Arizona, she became involved in Adult Drama there!

Lenore was elected to the Board of SDA, first serving as the Education Chair. Over the years, Lenore held the positions of Conference Chair, Communications Chair, President-Elect and finally President. Lenore was instrumental in organizing new initiatives such as the Northern Drama Project, Middle Years Festival and New Initiatives Grants. She was also the Editor for SDA’s Journal and My Lines Magazine.

Lenore passed away in January of 2016. SDA will miss her leadership and her enthusiasm for child and youth drama.

Deanna Chernick – Regina

Deanna was born and raised in Regina. During high school she developed an interest in drama and became active in the drama program at Campbell Collegiate. That interest in drama has never abated. Deanna attended the University of Regina where she earned her B.Ed majoring in library science. Her first job was at Pilot Butte as a teacher librarian and English teacher. She worked there for twelve years and then moved to Lumsden High School where she taught for twenty-two years before retiring. At Lumsden she was the teacher-librarian and taught a variety of subjects including grade 9 drama. However, it was the extra-curricular drama program that brought about her involvement with Saskatchewan Drama Association.

For several years she was instrumental in organizing and directing a fall dinner theatre and one act plays in the spring. The one act plays participated in Saskatchewan Drama’s Regional Festivals and when asked to serve as a member-at-large on the Board, she said yes. A few years later she was a Chair of the Festivals Committee and has for the last few years returned to the position of Member-at-Large.

Deanna retired in 2011 but continues to substitute teach. She lives in Regina with her husband and is fortunate to have both her son and daughter and their families in the city as well. Deanna loves to travel, read, attend theatre, bake, golf, keep active and spend time with her grandsons and granddaughter.

Through the years in which she has been involved, Deanna has seen Saskatchewan Drama Association thrive and grow. She loves to see the difference that drama makes for students and teachers. She is very glad to have been and continue to be a part of such an exciting, caring, supportive community.

Bob Nicholls – Regina

Bob Nicholls has directed one-act plays, full-length plays, readers’ theatre, revues, and musicals at elementary and high school, and in the community.

His plays have won at the regional level and represented Regina at the SDA provincial one-act festival, and plays and members have received various awards at the local and provincial levels.

He has directed full-length plays, one-acts, and readers’ theatre for Regina Little Theatre, and done sound design for others. For Regina Summer Stage he has been music director for many productions and acted as production manager for several. Most recently, Bob was both director and music director for Once Upon a Mattress in the summer of 2015. All these experiences have given him the opportunity to work with people of all ages from children through to seniors.

For SDA, he was on regional committees and helped organize local festivals when those committees were in place. He has participated in many theatre workshops over the years, including attending two recent Broadway Teachers’ Workshops.

Mr. Nicholls received his B. Mus. Ed. Degree from the University of Regina. He taught elementary and high school for 31 years, teaching primarily music, English and drama.

He is a long-time member of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, having played timpani and percussion. In addition, he has freelanced considerably, playing for choirs, Broadway musicals, oratorios, and ballets, and adjudicated for music festivals in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

He was awarded the Pro Musica Award from the Saskatchewan Choral Federation for his contributions to choral music in Saskatchewan. He has sung with the Regina Philharmonic Chorus, and is currently the choral conductor for St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Choir. He has just begun singing in the U. of R. Concert Choir.

As someone committed to the arts, Mr. Nicholls has been a member of many executives, including the Saskatchewan and Canadian Music Educators’ Associations, Regina Symphony Orchestra Players’ Association, Saskatchewan Choral Federation, Regina Summer Stage, and Regina Performing Arts Centre, as well as on committees for the SDA region, Regina Little Theatre, and Lyric Musical Theatre.

Roxane Mamer

Roxane has been employed as a Library Technician at Unity Composite High School in the Living Sky School Division for over twenty years and is looking forward to retirement in the near future. She has been involved with community and school drama in Unity for that period of time. Roxane joined SDA when her group began competing in Regional Festivals.

In 2002, she attended her first SDA AGM and decided to get involved at the Board level and became a Member-at-Large the following year. She was a member of the policy review committee for two years and then accepted the Festivals Chair for two years.

Recently, Roxane has written many plays for her students to perform for Festival wining several awards in her region. Roxane often works for SDA as a Backstage Adjudicator and finds that both a challenge and a fantastic way to connect with others. Working with an organization as dynamic as Saskatchewan Drama Association has been great and she looks forward to continuing her involvement for many years to come.

2015 Recipients​

Michael Baxter – Tisdale

Michael came from Ottawa and started teaching at Porcupine Plain High School in 1980. From that year on drama became a huge part of his life.

During Michael’s first year of teaching, he was successful with “Rider’s to the Sea” at Regionals. This play became his first Provincial win. Michael was hooked! From 1980 to 2012, many students at Porcupine Plain participated in fall productions, regional plays and musicals because of Michael’s enthusiasm. Michael directed 32 Region 7 festival plays. The small school of Porcupine Plain became regionally and provincially known for very fine drama productions. Many students were award winning actors, stage managers, stage crewmembers, light and sound technicians under Michael’s direction. These 32 productions resulted in 15 Region 7 recipients of Best Overall Production. During this time, Michael acted as Region 7 Festival Coordinator and encouraged and inspired schools in the region to be involved in SDA’s Regional Festival. Porcupine Plain hosted Region 7 Festival many time during Michael’s years there.

Michael participated on the SDA Board of Directors as: Regional Representative 1985-1995, President-Elect 1996-1998 and President 1998-2000. Michael was honoured to participate in the Northern Drama Project in 2013-2014 mentoring students in Cumberland House and Sandy Bay and adjudicating the Region 12 Festival that same year. This was a very rewarding and memorable experience and is cherished by Michael.

Presently, Michael enjoys adjudicating and work-shopping SDA Regional Festivals and helping local schools with their plays. A future goal is to start the Tisdale Theatre Company with his wife and co-director Barbara.

Michael has been involved in 65 theatrical productions and is an “Unsung Hero.” His love for fine high school theatre is a life time gift he gave to many….on and off the stage.

Carol Spencer – Turtleford

Drama has been a part of Carol’s life for as long as she can remember! Carol’s participation in the dramatic world started with Christmas Concerts in the country school she attended as a child. She continued her drama connection by her involvement in drama productions in high school. As an adult Carol took part in community theatre for several years until family obligations took over her time. Several years later, as time allowed her, Carol became involved in the Mervin Trees for Life Dinner Theatre as director and continues in this undertaking today.

In 1995 Carol was working as a Grade 4 teacher in Turtleford School. The chance to dive into drama was dropped in her lap when a drama coach was needed for the high school. She had never been involved in Saskatchewan Drama Association festivals, so she took on the challenge and the group attended the Region 8 festival in Spiritwood. What a learning experience and, of course, she was hooked again!

From 1995 to 2010 she directed the drama group, going to provincials twice as they built up their skills and commitment. These were fantastic experiences that she was sorry to leave as she retired from teaching in 2010.

During this time Carol continued to be involved in the Saskatchewan Drama Association as a Board member. She spent 12 years on the Board in various positions including two terms as president. This was also a very rewarding and learning experience.

Drama has enriched Carol’s life and has afforded her many opportunities to see the growth and development of her students and herself. Drama is and will continue to be a very important part of her life.

2014 Recipients​

Jackie Rutledge

Jackie went to a rural school and then a small high school where the annual Christmas concert was a thing that everyone in the school participated in. Jackie went to University in Regina for 2 years and completed her degree at summer school and night classes over a period of 10 years. She started teaching in Regina in 1966 at Sherwood School (2 yrs.) and at R J Davidson (3 yrs.). She married in 1971 and moved to Oxbow and taught Special Ed in Estevan 1972-5. The rest of her teaching career was at Oxbow Prairie Heights retiring in 1997. Shortly after moving to Oxbow Jackie met Jean Taylor and got involved with both Hospital Auxiliary and the adult community theatre group. Jackie’s children Douglas (1975) and Danette (1977) grew up with theatre so once they were in Grade 5 they joined the school theatre group and Jackie became involve in the school program as well. When Florence Eberle, Oxbow’s founding high school drama teacher, had to leave for health reasons, Jackie inherited her Drama 30 class and when Ross Arthur retired shortly after that she also became the extra circular drama director. Because she had no formal drama training she depended on help from the adult group especially Sherlynne Best and Jean Taylor. The students and Jackie learned together. Oxbow’s drama season began in the fall, junior and seniors took part in the community dinner productions in November and in December preparations began for the spring SDA festival. She also always took a group of interested students to Provincials in May every year. In 1993 Jackie took the position as Regional Rep for SDA and in 1997 became a member of the SDA Board of Directors. During her time on the Board, she held the positions of Member at Large and Finance Chair for several terms. After she retired from the Board, Jackie would continue to help out at Provincial Festival. As well, after retirement she continued to the extra-curricular drama program at Oxbow Prairie Heights as a volunteer for 5 years. Her first year of retirement was the year the Oxbow and Arcola School Divisions amalgamated. Her school division had a policy in place to cover expenses for groups to go to Regional Festivals but was informed by the then Director of Education that that would no longer be the case as there were no written documents and there was nothing that could be one about about it as Jackie was no longer a teacher there. WRONG! Jackie had been PD chairman for 20 years so she knew a lot of teachers. Jackie made some phone calls and with Gwen Arthur’s and others help, set up a committee with a teacher representative from each school. Jackie borrowed the Phys Ed document from the Phys Ed teachers and the committee proceeded to produce a document to cover Arts Education. Jackie believes that the document is still in place so travel to Regional Festivals is covered. Because she taught in a small community volunteering was a part of life. She volunteered for a number of Boards-Hospital Auxiliary (local, provincial, national), Air Cadets, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (local, provincial) Legion Auxiliary, Professional Development and Donors Clinic to name a few. Her love has always been working with children so time spent with drama has always been special. She looks back on some special students (Bradley Hayward and Angel Sombrutski, names you would likely know) that grew because of the drama programs but of course all her drama students were special people. Now she look forward to seeing her grandchildren grow with drama in their lives. If it was not for the fact that Jackie and her husband winter in Arizona now she would find it difficult to no longer be an active part of SDA. Jackie thanks you for allowing her the privilege to be a part of this wonderful organization.

Walter Lord Lynbrook Mills – Saskatoon

Walter was born in Moose jaw, Saskatchewan, May 29, 1924. His love of theatre began as a child, where throughout his school years; he performed as a singer and actor. His organizational skills developed early while attending Normal school in Moose Jaw where he started a drama club. As a teacher in Maple Creek, he again developed a drama program, working hard to provide students with an opportunity to learn about theatre. In the late 1940’s, Walter went back to school taking summer classes at University of British Columbia. After a year with the Stratford Festival and at the invitation of Emrys Jones, he completed his Bachelor of Arts with a major in Drama at the University of Saskatchewan. He again set up a drama club there that was open to all students of the university. His theatre credits are numerous including working at Stratford, Persephone, 25th Street Theatre and the California Glendale Center and Studio Theatre. He is a noted director who often designed his productions and has written several works, including the published “Chokecherry Wine.” In 1964 he returned to the University of Saskatchewan as a faculty member, again at the invitation of Emrys Jones, the head of the Theatre Department. Throughout his career Walter has inspired many students through several productions including with the “Strolling Players,” a summer arts employment program, which he established in the early 1970’s. He also used his contacts in film to find employment for Saskatchewan actors. Walter spent several years at the University of Saskatchewan, eventually becoming the head of the Theatre Department. In the late 1970’s he worked with the Saskatchewan Drama Association to reorganize and reintroduce the Saskatchewan drama festivals to high school students. Walter Mills was an integral and driving force in the creation of Saskatchewan Drama Association’s one act festival program. He created the format, adjudicated all the first year’s Regional Festivals and arranged for the Provincial Festival to be hosted at the University of Saskatchewan. He used his contacts in film and Hollywood to provide the provincial adjudicators in the first years of the festival. Walter also canvassed and cajoled the University of Saskatchewan to provide the Kenneth Gordon Award for the Best Overall Production and the Gateway Players Award for the Best Technical Crew at SDA’s Provincial Festival. His interest and inspiration in the fledgling Saskatchewan Drama Association set a good foundation for the festival program we enjoy today. It is wonderful to have a person like Walter Mills be so instrumental in the development of youth drama in our province. In addition to organizing the festivals, he also contributed his skills as an adjudicator. Fortunately he had continued to contribute in his “retirement” years: Corner Gas, a film with Brent Butt and teaching film classes from time to time.

2013 Recipients​

Roy Chalis – North Battleford

Born near a famous race track in England, emigrated to Canada (finally) about the time of Sputnik, running in circles ever since trying to avoid manual labour and the taxman. Started teaching Senior Elementary (grades 7and 8) in North Battleford in 1966. Produced a musical in 1967 called “Be Prepared,” written by a teacher in Saskatoon whose name I do not remember. Circa 1972, created a Junior High (middle years) drama curriculum based on the work of Mary Ellen Burgess and Hilda Allen because there was a void in the provincial curriculum. Later that decade developed a locally developed Theatre Arts curriculum 10, 20, 30 and began teaching English 10, 20,30 and Theatre arts 10,20,30 at the North Battleford Comprehensive High School where I continued to teach until retirement in June 1996. I continue to act, direct, and write as well as adjudicate for SDA in spite of my advancing years. I’m married to Donna, have three children Dannyll, Dawnn, and Darryll and six grandchildren, Reid Challis, Justyn and Rayne Challis, Kennedy and Carter Thorson, and Grayson Xavier Challis.

Gregory Digout – Yorkton

I graduated from university in 1988 with a degree in secondary English and Math, so of course my first job was teaching K to 6 Phys. Ed. at an elementary school. In my second year, the Director offered me a job teaching high school English, contingent upon my also agreeing to teach Drama. Anxious to be teaching at the secondary level, I took the job despite having no Drama training of any kind, and started at Sacred Heart High School in the fall of 1990. Early in the school year, I skipped out on a Showcase session to visit the SDA Office, because I had heard that the SDA Library was a good source of teaching resources for Drama, and the nice people there told me about SDA Festivals. In the spring of 1991, I directed a festival play for the first time, and failed so spectacularly that it took me four years to build up the courage to enter again. In the interim, though, I took a group of students to the SDA Provincial Festival each year, and by observing superior work onstage and participating in SDA workshops I slowly increased my knowledge and confidence, and in 1995 entered a play again and attended Provincial Festival for the first time as a participant. I also ‘volunteered’that year at the Regional Directors’ Meeting to become the Regional Rep for Region 4, beginning a sixteen year stint on the SDA Board of Directors, serving at times as a Member at Large, President, and Festivals Chair, as well as becoming an adjudicator and workshop clinician. In 2013 I directed my twentieth festival play, and, at the risk of sounding boastful, have had the good fortune to direct elevenregional and three provincial Best Overall Productions. How serendipitous the decision to become a Drama teacher turned out to be, as all my best memories and experiences of the past twenty years involve Drama and the SDA, and the wonderful and talented students and colleagues with whom I have worked as a result. Receiving an award is icing on an already very sweet cake. I would like to express sincere gratitude to the SDA and to those responsible for my nomination. It is truly an honour to be recognized along with people for whom I have much admiration.

Lyle Johnson – Moose Jaw

Lyle was born in Craik and came to Moose Jaw shortly thereafter. He began his teaching career at Bushell Park in 1969 and moved to A. E. Peacock Collegiate in the fall of 1973 where he taught drama until his retirement in 2011. At school and in the community he has produced and/or directed over 60 dramas, musicals, one-act plays (including 3 Provincial Festival winners) and coached the Improv team. In the drama world he is an adjudicator, workshop presenter and pilot program teacher. A 34 year member of the Saskatchewan Drama Association, he has served 14 years on the executive including terms as President, President Elect and is currently Festivals Chair. His various community involvement include: Crime Stoppers, Miss Canada pageant organizer/judge, motorcycle safety instructor, recreation board member and executive member of various organizations, earned him the Moose Jaw Citizen of the Year in 1984. In 2012 he was awarded the Moose Jaw Honours Award for his contribution to the community of Moose Jaw in promoting and being an exemplary leader in the city. He has also been with volunteer awards from the Lt. Governor and the Saskatchewan Government. Lyle is the host of a weekly TV show on Shaw cable, “Moose Jaw This Week,” which is into its 31st season with over 1,000 shows completed. Army Cadets and the military have been an integral part of his life since 1964. He has been an officer or volunteer with 1856 Moose Jaw Schools Cadet Corps since 1968 and served at training centres in Banff, Ottawa, Cochrane AB, and Vernon BC where he is currently the Commanding Officer. He was awarded the third clasp to his Canadian Forces medal in 2011, signifying 42 years of good service. In April2012 he was selected as a recipient of the Cadet Instructor Cadre Lifetime Achievement Award. This is in addition to the Canada 125 Medal, Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal.For recreation he plays hockey with his buddies on the gOLDens hockey team, rides his bicycle and motorcycles or flies his ultralight “The Slowbird” when the winds are kind. He is the holder of several Canadian and world records for distance and speed in the Challenger II Special painted in the paint scheme of Canada’s 431 Squadron, “The Snowbirds.”

Debbie Burgher – Moose Jaw

Debbie attended the University of Saskatchewan. During her internship, Debbie produced and directed the school musical. Debbie started a community theatre program in Limerick and created an acting award at Limerick High School called “Albiestagel.” In 1987, she moved to Moose Jaw and became involved with the Moose Jaw Home Town Players, where she acted in lead roles and/or directed plays such as “My Fair Lady,” “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Debbie directed Middle Years Plays at St. Margaret School and created small original plays with her kindergarten class. In 1990, Debbie transferred to Vanier Collegiate where she established a continues the tradition of producing a Fall musical production and a Spring one act play. Debbie’s One Acts have won several awards both at the Regional and Provincial level. Debbie joined the Moose Jaw Community Players where she has acted and directed. Over the last four years, Debbie’s plays have won Best Overall Production at the Regional Festival three times and runner-up once. Her students have returned with numerous accolades including Best Overall Production, Best Stage Manager, Best Technical Crew, Best Visual Production and Best Technical Performance. She has facilitated numerous drama workshops at many schools, conventions and STF summer short course. She has mentored many interns over the years and assisted in Labyrinth of Peace presentations at Trace.