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Lynn Shaw: Popular J.J. Pearce High School theater teacher

Lynn Shaw had a two-act formula for success during her 25 years teaching and directing drama at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson.

Lynn Shaw had a two-act formula for success during her 25 years teaching and directing drama at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson.

She first encouraged a diverse group of students to audition for one of her productions, then matched each talent to a role.

The fruits of her labor were visible in the packed houses for her musicals and the students who learned to share her passion for the stage.

Ms. Shaw, 59, died Friday of complications of cancer at her Dallas home.

A memorial will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas.

"Lynn had a way of making high school theater cool, even for football players and baseball players," said Mary Anna Dennard, a drama-audition coach.

"Those athletes looked forward every year to singing and dancing on stage in her musical. This was unusual for high school theater to be embraced by virtually every segment of the student body."

Ms. Shaw also excelled as a casting director, said her husband, Nolan Shaw of Dallas.

"She had the ability to know what a part required and see the person and say, 'You should be here,' " he said.

Ms. Shaw's productions were well received by the public, not just parents, friends and family, Ms. Dennard said.

"That theater seats 1,500 people, and it would be full every single night for three weekends," Ms. Dennard said.

In addition to teaching and directing, Ms. Shaw brought the Cappies program to Dallas. Under Cappies, student journalists review drama performances by participating high schools. Cappies awards are then presented annually to the best productions.

Ms. Shaw was born Glenda Jeanette Helm in Scottsbluff, Neb., on Aug. 9, 1949.

After graduating from Scottsbluff High School in 1967, she earned bachelor's degrees in theater and English from Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb., in 1969. She earned a master's degree in communications from Portland State University in 1981.

Ms. Shaw taught drama in Colorado, Washington and California before joining the Pearce faculty in 1984. She was previously married to Mike Zednick and was known to her students as Ms. Zednick, or Zed, until she married Mr. Shaw in 2004.

"Performing arts education students have lost a great mentor and teacher," said Vicki Squires, artistic director for the Dallas Summer Musicals' Academy of Performing Arts.

"Her great insight was what it takes to pull off a terrific musical at the high school level. Lynn's program has always had a tremendous reputation."

Ms. Shaw also painted with oils and wrote and published a number of children's books under the pen name Emily Chase.

In April, Ms. Shaw was diagnosed as having a rapid form of cancer. She began chemotherapy in May, but didn't quit teaching.

"She had some very emotional classes with the kids," Mr. Shaw said. "It was a typical Lynn. She said, 'OK, let's plan my funeral. Let's put on a musical.'

"They had a great time with it, and it made them feel better."

In addition to her husband, Ms. Shaw is survived by two daughters, Merrideth Zednick of Dallas and Laura Flowers of Round Rock, Texas; a son, Lane Shaw of Dallas; her mother, Opal Helm of Sun City, Ariz.; a sister, Sharon Bilstein of Torrington, Wyo.; a brother, Jim Helm of Sun City, Ariz.; and three grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Lynn Shaw Scholarship Fund at Signature Bank, in care of Cheryl Johnson, 6757 Arapaho Road, Suite 725, Dallas, Texas 75248.

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