Field Narrows for GRAMMY Music Educator Candidates


Music teachers from 15 states have been selected as the 25 semifinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. In all, more than 30,000 initial nominations were submitted from each of the 50 states.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (Kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who “have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”

One recipient will be selected from 10 finalists, and will be recognized for his or her remarkable impact on students’ lives. The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the GRAMMY Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium. Each of the nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

The honorariums and grants provided to the finalists and schools are made possible by the support of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Education Champions Converse, Ford Motor Company Fund, Box Tops for Education, and Journeys with additional support from Universal Music Group.

The Music Educaaor award will have its inaugural presentation at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception honoring recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustee Award, and Technical GRAMMY® Award during GRAMMY Week 2014.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME), which is supporting the project with advocacy resources, announced that NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer will sit on the award’s Blue Ribbon Selection Committee. The finalists will be announced in December.

The honorariums and grants provided to the finalists and schools are made possible by the support of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Education Champions Converse, Ford Motor Company Fund, General Mills Box Tops for Education, and Journeys.

Creation of the award was announced February 20, 2013, at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards® by President and CEO of The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation Neil Portnow, TV and radio host/producer and GRAMMY Foundation Honorary Board Chair Ryan Seacrest, and six-time GRAMMY® winner Justin Timberlake.

“Elizabeth Lasko, NAfME Assistant Executive Director said, “NAfME is pleased to support the Grammy Music Educator Award program. We know that just about every performer who makes it to the GRAMMY stage had a music teacher who believed in them, and we’re really pleased to see music educators spotlighted in this way.”


The 10 finalists will be announced in December. The semi-finalists are:

  • Michael Allard, Harmony Magnet Academy, Porterville California
  • Gregory Bennet, Middletown High School, Middletown New York
  • Lisa Bianconi, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, Westminster Vermont.
  • Glen Cain, Gold Trail School, Rescue, California
  • Charles Cushinery, Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas Nevada
  • Amy Darby, Phoenixville Area Middle School, Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
  • Andrew DeNicola, John P. Stevens High School, Metuchen New Jersey
  • Leslie Denning, South Miami Middle School, Miami Shores Florida
  • Mark Duker, Neuqua Valley High School, Oswego, Illinois
  • Krista Fanning, Caddo Middle Magnet School, Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Elaine Gates, L.I.U Post, Long Island University, Centerport, New York
  • Vivian Gonzalez, South Miami K-8 Center, Miami Florida
  • Deanna Joseph, Georgia State University, Tucker, Georgia
  • Kent Knappenberger, Westfield Academy and Central School, Westfield New York
  • Kathrine Kouns Horizon High School, Carmel, Indiana
  • Anthony Mazzocchi, Montclair State University, Maplewood New Jersey
  • Glen McCarthy, George Mason University, Centreville, Virginia
  • Dustin Olsen, Hot Springs County High School, Thermopolis, Wyoming
  • Sarah Payne, Bryan Station Middle School, Lexington Kentucky
  • Kathy Rohrs, Chaminade College Preparatory, West Hills, California
  • Michael Smith, Nyack High School Spring Valley New York
  • Kristina Turpin, Pinecrest Schools, Simi Valley, California
  • Steve Vutsinas, Grassfield High School, Chesapeake Virginia
  • Jo Wallace-Abbie, Plano West Senior High School, Plano Texas
  • Mary Jo West, George Mason High School, Centreville Virginia

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Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, September 27, 2013. © National Association for Music Education