A Charleston County School of the Arts teacher has received the 2009 Outstanding Theatre Educator Award from the South Carolina Theatre Association.

George Younts was nominated by state theater professionals and endorsed by the association's board. The honor goes annually to a kindergarten-through-12th grade or college teacher who has done the most during the past year at his or her educational level for theater students.

Younts directs the School of the Arts' improvisational troupe and serves as technical director for the school's theater. He's served as liaison for the district's drama teachers, and he's been a member of groups such as the Actors Equity Association, Southeastern Theatre Conference and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Younts has toured theaters across the country and locally as a director, designer, producer and performer. He performs a solo poetry show annually in schools and tours a one-man adaptation of "A Christmas Carol."

He's a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and a company member of Theatre 99, Charleston's professional improvisational theater troupe. He taught at the BAK Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Fla., before coming to the School of the Arts theater department. The SOA theater department produces more than 50 student performances each year.

Principal Jim Reinhart said Younts has high expectations for his students. He requires them to study Shakespeare but then allows them to write their own scripts, he said. Younts also brings field experience to the classroom that's beneficial for students to understand, he said.

"George is a character by every sense of the term, and I think that is what allows him to be so successful in his pursuits within theater and being a theater instructor," Reinhart said. "George is wonderful at his craft. He tries to broaden kids' experiences. It's more than acting. It's about theater and theatrical concepts and sets and sound and lighting. It's the whole ball of wax."