Susan Cantine-Maxson
Susan Cantine-Maxson
Retired Decorah teacher Susan Cantine-Maxson has been selected as this year's recipient of the Iowa Communication Association's Citation Award.

The Citation Award is given each year to an individual who has consistently demonstrated exceptional service to the communication and/or performing arts in Iowa over an extended period of time. It is the highest award the ICA bestows. Cantine-Maxson will receive the award Sept. 20, 2013, at the organization's annual conference in Ankeny.

Cantine-Maxson has taught English/speech/theatre for more than 41 years.

In that time, she has been involved in teaching speech at the high school and college levels. She also has dedicated her time and expertise in the direction of extracurricular speech and theatre. She has been an active member in numerous professional organizations, often taking on leadership roles. A member of ICA since 1989, she has served on the executive board of the organization for 13 years, six of those as executive secretary. Now retired, she continues to be a lifelong advocate of the arts, currently working as the executive director of the 106-year-old Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia, Kan., and serving as the secretary of the Kansas Historical Theatre Association.

Cantine-Maxson began her involvement in high school speech and theatre as Susan Willms in Sheldon. Under the tutelage of Jay Shelp her love of theatre and speech grew. She continued to be involved throughout her education at Wartburg College in Waverly. She taught in both the Wapsie Valley and Decorah school districts in Iowa. She completed her master's degree in theatre arts/communication at the University of Northern Iowa in 1989. During several summers, she served as assistant to the director for Luther College's Dorian Opera Theatre program.

In Decorah, Cantine-Maxson built her legacy.

She taught at the high school level, eventually became department head, directed speech and theatre activities, and hosted large group speech contests. Of her groups, 89 were chosen as Outstanding Performances and five were selected as Critic's Choice at the Large Group All State Festival. She has also taught a variety speech, English, literature, and education courses at Luther College, Northeast Iowa Com¬munity College and Cloud County Community College in Kansas. She continues to teach literature online.

While teaching at Decorah High School, Cantine-Maxson successfully coached her students in individual and large group competitions and directed nu¬merous plays and musicals. In 2000, the National Federation of Interscholastic Speech, Drama, and Athletics selected her as one of eight outstanding speech/theater teachers in the nation. In 2005, the Iowa High School Speech Association inducted her into their Hall of Fame. She has been a critic at both Individual and Large Group All-State Speech festivals.

Professionally, Cantine-Maxson has presented numerous workshops on readers theatre, choral reading, speech activities for the classroom, acting, and creative dramatics. She has served on National Communication Association evaluation teams and was a member of the Creative Drama Cadre from the Iowa Department of Education which helped elementary teachers incorporate drama activities in the classroom. She has held numerous leadership roles in Rotary, tourism and the arts.

Last spring she received the Kaleidoscope award from the Concordia Chamber of Commerce in recognition for leadership for a project promoting the community and business for her work spearheading a $650,000 renovation project at the Brown Grand Theatre.