Johanna Smith, professor of theatre arts and puppetry expert, is one of the first winners of the Nancy Straub Award for Excellence in Publication on the Art of Puppetry for her book, “Puppetry in Theatre and Arts Education: Head, Hands and Heart.”

The award was established this year by UNIMA-USA, the North American Center of Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the oldest international theatre organization in the world. The award honors books, articles or dissertations that are exemplary contributions that forward the field of puppetry by documenting important histories, contributing importantly to theory or practice, and by sharing prime research.

“It is quite an honor to be one of the first recipients of the Nancy Staub award in recognition of my book,’” said Smith. “It is especially gratifying to have the international organization for puppetry recognize the subject of puppetry specifically used in education as equal in importance to professional theatre and film puppetry in theatre scholarship.”

Puppetry in Theatre and Arts Education: Head, Hands and Heart is a workbook that provides strategies, techniques and activities for integrating the puppetry arts into K through 12 curriculum – a comprehensive pedagogical tool geared to the needs of educators. It shows puppetry arts can fulfill the Educational Standards for Theatre based on the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework (comparable standards are found in every state in the U.S.). The work makes a compelling argument for puppetry arts in educational curricula, while also focusing on the importance of assessment of student achievement.

The award is named in honor of Nancy Lohman Staub, an original member of UNIMA-USA and Special Citation winner, who has contributed to the understanding of the world puppetry through fostering the museum collection at the Center for Puppetry Arts Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, leadership in UNIMA-International, and her extensive writing on puppetry.

“I have enjoyed the international collaborations and connections that have developed as a result of this recognition,” said Smith. “I’m excited to see where these new collaborations take me and my puppetry work with students at CSUSB.”