After Steve retired from a federal government job in 2009, he was named technical director at Slayton House, where the diverse events he handles include the musicals ambitiously produced by the Columbia-based Silhouette Stages. He's also on that theater's board of directors.

"I do whatever has to be done," Steve, 69, says in the matter-of-fact way of somebody who makes sure that the show will go on. He adds that "I try not to be part of the stage crew, because they have everything down to a science."

Steve Teller is a man of the theater who clearly loves being part of the show, but not being in the show itself.

"It keeps me involved in theater," Steve explains. "I enjoy watching people who are watching what we put on stage, but you don't see me up on stage. I like to think that what I do enhances things."


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"Steve and I have been on stage, so we have that experience, but we like being behind the scenes better. There is less stress and no lines to remember," laughs Pat, 71, who especially enjoys the direct interaction she has with the public through helping out at the box office.

Just as Bruce Nelson and the Tellers are dedicated to the theater, the recipient of this year's Howie for Outstanding Arts Educator, Shawn Costello, has a lifelong dedication to teaching art. She has taught art in the Howard County Public Schools for 24 years, and currently teaches at Lisbon Elementary School.

Her contact with art is hardly limited to the classroom. This professional artist paints portraits, does illustrations for children's books, leads a summer painting program at the home she owns in Maine, and even helps create nine-foot walking puppets for the annual Lisbon Horse Parade.

"I'm really blessed that I'm in a community that appreciates art. It's a place where you can imagine you're in a 'Field of Dreams' out here," says Costello, who lives in a converted barn in West Friendship.

She observes that the agricultural heritage of western Howard County is reflected in classroom drawing assignments.

"If I ask my students how many of them have pigs, at least a third of them have pigs or cattle or horses," she says.

Not only does farm imagery frequently appear in the student artwork, but it also seems to filter into everyday conversation. When asked her age, Costello has a good-natured reply: "I'm not a spring chicken."

Whether in the classroom or on stage, the arts are nurtured in all sorts of ways. Such artistic activity takes money and the organizational ability to target it wisely, which is why there's a Howie given out for Outstanding Business or Community Supporter of the Arts. This year's recipient is Kevin Kelehan, who is a partner in the law firm of Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett and Scherr. He has provided legal guidance for the Columbia Festival of the Arts for around 10 years, does pro bono work for Howard County government and public schools, and is on Howard Community College's Educational Foundation Board, where he co-chaired the college's recent capital campaign.

"I'm very humbled by it," Kelehan says about receiving a Howie. Observing that it's important for members of the business and legal community to do their part for cultural and educational activities in the county, the 61-year-old Baltimore City resident adds that "the entertainment side is not something I do normally" as a real estate lawyer.

Exhibit A on the entertainment side, if you will, is that when comedian Paula Poundstone makes an appearance for the Columbia Festival of the Arts this May, Kevin Kelehan will have inspected her contract in advance. Poundstone will be telling the jokes, but he's doing his part to make everybody happy.

The Howard County Arts Council's "Celebration of the Arts" is Saturday, March 23 from 6- 10 p.m. at Howard Community College's Horowitz Center, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. The $100 ticket includes a reception from 6- 8 p.m. and performance from 8- 10 p.m. in Smith Theatre; the $50 ticket includes the reception and a performance simulcast in the adjacent Studio Theatre. Entertainment during the reception includes The Lucky Few, comprised of Tony Waddy and Paul Krysiak. Call 410-313-2787 or go to http://www.hocoarts.org.