Debra Gress Jansen '87 H'16

Debbie has shared that “all she ever wanted to do—well, other than to become an actress—was to teach at SCH! She went on to say ”but I digress. When I graduated from Springside, I vowed that one day I would come back to teach at CHA.”

And teach and change lives she did! Debbie has served in a multitude of roles that encompass almost every facet of Players life and the theater program at this institution–Players Alumna, Director of Players from 2006-2012 and Assistant Director and Producer from 2017-2020, and Players Parent to Jack and Katie. She is a person who works with incredible diligence, attention to detail, and a deep love and passion for the craft of acting. She has an impeccable ability to cultivate a creative vision, and bring it to life beautifully onstage. She communicates with open honesty, and integrity of spirit, and encourages students to create and embody their characters fully, consistently maintaining positivity, encouragement, and a grounded thoughtfulness that lifts up all those who work with her. In addition to her incredible work on stage and at The Rec, Debbie always went above and beyond, generously giving her time, energy, and resources behind the scenes to help to elevate our Players work – whether it was doing detailed scene work with a student, making sure we had exactly the right looking prop, ensuring that a costume or wig fit a character and shown onstage, beautifying the lobby and making our front of house experience special and wonderful, lending a listening ear and wise advice, or finding unique ways to better our productions and our community in every way. From her very first production as Director, “The Wind and the Willows” to her stunning vision for her final show directing, “Sense and Sensibility”, she has touched the lives of countless students, families, parents, faculty, adult leaders, and families with her unwavering dedication and commitment to Players. 

Players student, Elizabeth Shoff shared, “She was always willing to talk and hear your ideas, make you feel safe, and was just as excited to be there as we were. Having her around just created a calming aura and made you want to work hard and create a great show." Debbie’s energy, passion and creativity has left a lasting mark on our productions, people and the space that we call “home, The Rec. 

There are not enough words to describe how Debbie has kept the Players legacy alive and burning brightly, and we cannot thank her enough for her contributions.

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