From the nomination letter:
Mike Levin has contributed over and above in the area of theater and writing education. Each year he takes his students to theaters all over the US. He has taken them to London, Broadway, and Chicago, just to name a few, and discusses with them in depth what they see. I recently heard him say that this year he has a group of students who are so advanced that he has to prepare three hours for a one hour class just to keep them on their toes. This summer he took a play that one of his students wrote, directed it and performed it at theatrikos with some of his other students. They then took it to the D.C. theater festival and performed it there. He also continues to improve his own skills by writing plays, publishing poetry, earning a masters in writing and acting in plays on a regular basis. Mike Levin deserves recognition for all he has done for the Flagstaff community and for his students.
January 2012, Mike brought the top three plays from their third annual Fringe Fest to Canyon Moon Theater (CMT). The three plays were voted best of the Fringe by an audience of over 300 ballots. Mike Levin and Mary Guaraldi of CMT had been looking for an opportunity to present the work of FALA students to the Canyon Moon audience. Mike has been a fixture at CMT since the first season appearing in such shows as Sylvia, Fiction and The Importance of Being Earnest. “It is a pleasure to have his students appear on the Canyon Moon stage. Their creativity and talent are extraordinary,” said Guaraldi.
In June 2012, Williams College awarded its annual George Olmsted, Jr., Class of 1924 Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching to four outstanding high school teachers to Michael D. Levin, who teaches English literature, composition, and theater at Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy in Flagstaff, Ariz. Mike was one of four winners. Each year, Williams College seniors nominate high school teachers who played influential roles in their lives and their learning. A committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students chooses winners from among the nominees. Recipients of the award receive $3,000, and an additional $2,500 is given to each recipient’s school.
“Mr. Levin consistently challenges his students, pushing us all to artistic and academic extremes,” Williams senior Molly Olguin said. “While Mr. Levin encouraged all of us to develop our own styles and forms, he pushed us to work as hard at our creative accomplishments as we did at our academics.”
Levin has been an instructor of numerous literature and theater classes at Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, a small public charter high school with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum and an emphasis on fine and performing arts, since 1997. “Every class I had with Mr. Levin in high school was my favorite class,” Olguin said. “Four years later, I still have friends from high school who constantly bring up specific moments of realization and academic and artistic satisfaction that happened for us in Mr. Levin’s classes.”
Ari Wilder, dean of academy at Flagstaff and a Williams graduate (’99), said of Levin “Mike is incredibly devoted to reading, creating, performing, and appreciating literature, and his classes all have a sense of purpose and palpable intensity that is fueled by his enthusiasm and dedication. His classes unfold organically, with seamless insertions of relevant information and natural dialogue and discussions between the students and Mike, but he achieves this by being highly prepared and knowledgeable about the topic at hand.”
Levin said that at Flagstaff, teachers are entrusted to design the curriculum and to select the books that best serves students. “This permits the course content to adapt to the desires and needs of the students,” Levin said. “So much of my position in the language and theater arts is about laying the foundation in the historical while staying current to the trends in academia and the world.”
Mike was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study “The Problem of Evil and the Origins of Totalitarianism” at Bard College in New York for five weeks during summer 2012. Mike was able to enhance the classes he teaches at FALA using information and themes learned in this workshops.
From a parent:
“M. Levin has a facebook page…and you can really tell the kind of person he is by the postings of his past students…and current students. Also, as a parent of one of his current students. He…is…off the charts fabulous. I have not seen many as dedicated to his art as he is….it is clear that he want his students to love the arts (all of them-not just theater).
“My son went on a week long trip with him last year to San Fransisco. WAS AMAZING. They went to galleries, the art museum, mural tours, Berkely for a tour, cooking lessons, fed the homeless, opening night at some swanky theater and the san fran ballet.”
Letter of recommendation (.pdf file)