Nine members of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) have been named as finalists for The Inaugural Music Educator Award, which will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception during GRAMMY® Week 2014.
The winning music teacher will be selected from a total roster of ten finalists from eight states, a significant honor considering that more than 30,000 initial nominations rolled in from all 50 states. The award is presented by The Recording Academy® and the GRAMMY Foundation®.
The GRAMMY Foundation established the Music Educator Award to recognize teachers 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.
When announced at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards® by President/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, the award was open to current U.S. music teachers, and anyone could nominate a teacher — students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans, and administrators. Teachers were also able to nominate themselves, and nominated teachers were notified and invited to fill out an application.
The winner will fly to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony on January 26, 2014 at the Staples Center, and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also 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, Box Tops For Education®, Converse, Ford Motor Company Fund, Journeys, and Microsoft Surface, with additional support from Universal Music Group.
NAfME Plays a Role in the Process
NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer said, “It was an honor to participate in the selection process, both because of the high level of recognition and attention that this will bring to music education and its importance in our schools and in our society. Everyone on the committee was strongly committed to the importance of this award and there was never a question that this will continue and possibly expand in the future.
“The process involved reviewing three videos or reading essays for each candidate, then rating them in each of several categories. Ratings were tabulated and used as a starting point for discussion, which then led us to determine the top 10. After that, we were able to narrow the field to a couple of candidates, with in depth discussion leading us to determine the winner for this year,” Ditmer said.
Christopher Woodside, Assistant Executive Director, Center for Advocacy & Public Affairs said “The GRAMMY Music Educator Award is an exciting new opportunity to shine the spotlight on the remarkable men and women that provide students with access to sequential, standards-based music education learning experiences all across the country. “
He added, “In many cases, these teachers are proving to be the difference makers between success and failure in the lives of young learners, and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. I am so pleased that our GRAMMY friends have instituted such a prestigious way of saying ‘thank you’ to America’s music educators.”
The ten finalists for Music Educator of the Year include:
- Lisa Bianconi, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, Westminster, Vermont
- Charles Cushinery, Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Andrew DeNicola, John P. Stevens High School, Edison, New Jersey
- Vivian Gonzalez, South Miami K-8 Center, Miami, Florida
- Kent Knappenberger, Westfield (New York) Academy and Central School
- Kathrine Kouns, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, Arizona
- Glen McCarthy, George Mason University, Fairfax , Virginia
- Steve Vutsinas, Grassfield High School, Chesapeake, Virginia
- Jo Wallace-Abbie, Plano West Senior High School, Plano, Texas
- Mary Jo West, George Mason High School, Falls Church, Virginia
Applications for the second annual Music Educator Award are already online. The deadline to nominate a teacher is March 31, 2014. The application process will adjust each year to allow the broad array of effective teaching styles and methods used in the discipline to be recognized and awarded.
Roz Fehr, December 12, 2013. © National Association for Music Education