Nevada MEA President is Among the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Finalists

Cushinery Headshot 1- Color - Copy
GRAMMY Educator Finalist Charles (Chuck) Cushinery


THE RECORDING ACADEMY® AND THE GRAMMY FOUNDATION®  announced the finalists for the Second Annual Music Educator Award of the Year award recently. The 2015 award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, during GRAMMY® Week. Ten music teachers from nine states were chosen from more than 7,000 initial nominations that were submitted from all 50 states. Eight of the 10 are members of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).

Charles Cushinery, who is president of the Nevada Music Educators Association, an NAfME federated state association, is one of the finalists. He teaches orchestra and is the music department coordinator at Ed W. Clark High School in Las Vegas.

A finalist for the second straight year, Cushinery told the Las Vegas Review Journal, “It was humbling the first time. Two years in a row is very humbling.” He has taught at Clark since 1997 and has written extensively on the topic of teacher retention factors.

In February 2015, the GRAMMY Foundation named Jared Cassedy of Windham, New Hampshire, the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator. Cassedy was one of 10 finalists chosen from a pool of 7,000 nominations nationwide. Of the 10 music educators, eight are NAfME members. Each finalist received a $1,000 honorarium, and their schools each received a $1,000 grant from the GRAMMY Foundation.

Glenn E. Nierman, president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), says the honored teachers represent high-quality music educators everywhere. Glenn E. Nierman, president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), says the honored teachers represent high-quality music educators everywhere. Read Nierman’s full remarks.

Of Clark High School, the newspaper reports, “The school’s music program has grown to such a presence under Cushinery’s stewardship that 93 percent of Clark students take a fine arts course, a staggering figure for the academic powerhouse that is Clark, known for its nationally recognized math, science, applied technology and finance academies.”

In working with the Nevada MEA, Cushinery says his state and NAfME  leadership”have forced me to look beyond my small corner of the world and carefully consider music education as a whole. The issues facing the many branches of our discipline have many commonalities but also an equal number of issues unique to that branch. The president is responsible to maintain balance and fairness – a very difficult task indeed. Gaining this knowledge has allowed me to productively reflect on my own teaching practice and modify my strategies and educational philosophies to be more global.”

The other nine finalists, with NAfME members’ names highlighted in bold, are:





Steven Acciani

Diamond Bar High School

Diamond Bar, California

William Bennett

  Cane Bay High School

Summerville, South Carolina

Jared Cassedy

Windham High School

Windham, New Hampshire

Krista Fanning

Caddo Middle Magnet

Shreveport, Louisiana

Richard Maxwell

  Arcadia High School

Phoenix, Arizona

Debra Reilly

Springhouse/Orefield Middle Schools

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Huber Smith

Maplewood Middle School

Sulphur, Louisiana

Nancie Tobison

Barrington High School

Barrington, Illinois

Danny Yancey

Martin Gifted & Talented Magnet School

Raleigh, North Carolina


The award recognizes a music teacher that has “made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrates a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”

NAfME member Kent Knappenberger of Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, New York was the first GRAMMY Educator of the Year. The 2015 winner will be selected from the ten finalists and will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony, 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 through the support of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Education Champions Converse, Disney Performing Arts, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Journeys.

Roz Fehr,  NAfME Communications Content Developer, December 17,  2014 © National Association for Music Education (