HPISD Mourns Beloved ‘Mama Drama’ Linda Raya

The Highland Park ISD community is mourning beloved educator Linda Raya, known affectionately as “mama drama.”

Raya’s family shared that Raya died April 4 after battling cancer. She worked at Highland Park ISD for more than 40 years as a theater teacher and district coordinator of fine arts. Prior to joining HPISD, she taught at the Northeast District in San Antonio and for Long Beach ISD in Long Beach, New York. Raya got her bachelor’s degree in English, Speech, and Theater in 1968 from the University of Incarnate Word and her master’s degree in Speech and Theater from the University of North Texas. 

HPHS parents Dina Jones Steele, a 1982 HP grad, and La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas president at the time Rebecca Beasley, their steering committee, and a group of volunteers worked for nearly two years on a tribute to Raya back in 2013.

They also initiated the creation of the Linda Raya Fine Arts Endowment around that time.

HP Arts awards a scholarship, the HP Arts Linda Raya Scholarship, each year to a graduating Highland Park High School senior(s) who studied the same fine art for four years and who plans to continue this study in college. 

Also at that 2013 tribute, it was announced the Palmer Auditorium stage at Highland Park High School would be named the Linda Raya Stage.

The master of ceremonies for the evening was Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and HPHS alumnus Doug Wright. The event included performances by the HPHS Bagpipes and Drum Corps, the Lads and Lassies and Highlander Orchestra students, and a procession that literally showcased the many hats Raya has worn throughout her career.

Her family says they will share more information about memorial/funeral services as it becomes available.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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