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Karen Nielsen-Anson

Karen Nielsen-Anson

Drama Teacher

At McGillis since 2010


Contact Karen Nielsen-Anson:


B.A., Theatre, Weber State University
M.S.W., Social Work, University of Utah


I love teaching drama! This started in my bedroom as a child staging productions from the bottom bunk of a bunk bed that became "the stage." I enlisted the support of ordinary items in my bedroom as props, and my sister as the key actor. I had the joy of acting professionally in SLC for 10 years, my favorite credits include playing Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Rosalind in As You Like It, Winefred in Once Upon a Mattress, and several years performing in Saturday's Voyeur and with the Saliva Sisters. I'm interested in the resilience and creativity of children as they experience the ability to express themselves on stage. I can't wait to help your child become brave, to work with them in rehearsals, and to bring out their light on stage! When I am not supporting students in a show, you can find me composing and sharing my own music as a singer/songwriter, chopping up vegetables in my kitchen, or on the trail!


I am currently reading:

Frequency by Penny Pierce


Favorite McGillis lunch:

Curried Veggies


I am learning to:

be a human and play more chords on the ukelele and guitar.


Favorite McGillis tradition:

Singing together as a Kehilah!


Which value do you most appreciate?

Tikkun Olam guides my life because I see the world as a place filled with opportunities for me to consider "how can I assist?, how can I repair the damage?" This gives my life purpose, and is a daily reminder that I am in the right place, because McGillis holds this value so dear.


The defining moment that lead you to your career in education:

My family struggled to provide me with food when I was a child. I wrote a note to the school counselor that my sister and I were hungry, then got scared, tore up the note, and put it in the garbage. Mr. Knight, a drama teacher/school counselor, saw me do this, got the note out of the garbage, put the pieces together, called my sister and I into his office and gave us “hot lunch” cards, we could use anytime. I learned that school was a safe, nurturing place where I could be fed, taught, and loved.  I became interested in the drama program because of Mr. Knight, who became my “hero”, and devote all my teaching to his blessed memory. The drama program became my family in high school. I learned that I belonged there and that as long as I worked hard, I would be needed on stage or backstage. I am on fire about theatre, and believe it can transform lives.


What is a powerful moment you experienced at school?

As an artist, I remember my educational life according to what I was performing in at the time: orchestra, then marching band, and finally which show I was in. I'll never forget Ms. Kelsen in 7th grade. She was the orchestra conductor and my music teacher. Once, during a concert, she somehow managed to cut herself while conducting at a concert. I watched as a drop of blood landed on the floor right in front of me (I was in the flute section, 3rd chair). This was back in the day of handkerchiefs, she quickly wrapped one around her finger. As the blood soaked through, I learned that "the show must go on" and was in awe of her strength and commitment.