NAfME Member Raymond Churchill Receives National LifeChanger Award
National Association for Music Education (NAfME) member Raymond Churchill, a music theatre and choir teacher at Griswold High School in Griswold, Connecticut, was surprised at a dress rehearsal for a program he and the students would be perform in Quebec City the following weekend — with an unexpected award.
Ray is known for his punctuality and was displeased with a delay in starting the dress rehearsal (he had been told there was a mandatory review of emergency exits and procedures). Unbeknownst to Ray, National Life Group representatives were in attendance to name him a 2015-2016 ‘LifeChanger of the Year’ award winner. He is a 15-year member of NAfME.
LifeChanger of the Year is a national program sponsored by National Life Group that annually recognizes and rewards K-12 school district educators and employees who make a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence, and leadership.
Ray was selected as a national LifeChanger of the Year winner out of more than 620 teachers, administrators, and school district employees nominated for the award from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He was nominated by his colleague Paul Smith.
Smith’s nomination noted that “as a 20-year veteran of music education, Ray has built a tremendous, well-rounded choral program featuring an annual spring musical that is the highlight of the school year for more than half of the student body and the cultural highlight of the year for the community. Mr. Churchill is, first and foremost, a fantastic teacher who is an expert in theater arts and vocal performance.”
“As a singer, he has a voice that has been featured in theater productions and opera productions in Connecticut. As a teacher, he inspires students every day in his choirs which include close to 200 performers.”
“He inspires excellence in his students and provides a venue for students of all abilities to shine and belong.”
Paul’s nomination adds: “But, it is the spring musical that sets Mr. Churchill apart from other music and theater educators. The production features over half of the student body – 300 students involved in at least one aspect of the production. It draws students of all abilities and skills, all backgrounds and learning styles. Mr. Churchill’s planning ensures that the experience is one students are immensely proud of, one that builds a love of theater – along with commitment, leadership, and the highest standards of excellence. He inspires excellence in his students and provides a venue for students of all abilities to shine and belong.”
“Giving students the opportunity to step in and make music their own is what it’s all about.”
Janice Steinhagen of the Hartford Courant interviewed Ray at the event.
“Giving students the opportunity to step in and make music their own is what it’s all about,” Ray said. “It’s the ultimate satisfaction for a teacher to be able to do that.” He quoted the old proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
About LifeChanger of the Year
LifeChanger of the Year nominees must be full-time educators, teachers, principals, or any member of the school district’s staff who makes a positive difference in the lives of students.
The 2016-2017 LifeChanger of the Year program will be open for nominations in August 2016.
Roz Fehr, NAfME Communications Content Developer, March 17, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).