2019-2021 Southwestern Division President-Elect
Candidate Biography and Statement
Anne Dawson is in her 28th year as the choral music director at Westmoore High School, where she directs four performing groups (Chamber Choir, Treble Chorale, Freshman Chorale, and Chamber Singers) and teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory and Music Appreciation. Under her direction her choirs have received superior ratings at district, state, and national festivals and have appeared as honor groups at OkMEA. Westmoore’s Chamber Choir has appeared with Canterbury Choral Society and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in performances of Duruflé’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Dawson received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State University) in Kirksville, Missouri, and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Oklahoma. Prior to assuming her position at Westmoore, she team-taught junior high and high school vocal music at Weatherford Public Schools in Weatherford, Oklahoma. While in Weatherford, Dawson was also employed by Southwestern Oklahoma State University as an adjunct voice teacher.
Dawson has adjudicated district and state music festivals in Oklahoma and Missouri. In addition to her position at Westmoore, she has served on the choral faculty of the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute and the Canterbury Choral Society Board of Directors. She has held the offices of OkMEA All-State Mixed Chorus chairman for the 2010-2011 school year; Choral Vice President of OkMEA from 2012-2014; 2014-2016 OkMEA President-Elect; and OkMEA President from 2016-2018. In 2013 Dawson received the OkMEA Exemplary Teacher in Secondary Music Education. She has served as an Advanced Placement Music Theory reader for the past 13 years, nine of those in a leadership position. She is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Oklahoma Choral Directors Association, and National Association for Music Education. Dawson is currently on the music staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City.
What do you see as the major challenges music educators will face during your term as president?
A major challenge facing music educators is lack of funding for music education. This issue came to a head during the 2017-2018 school year when the frustration over the legislature’s lack of appreciation resulted in school districts being faced with teacher walkouts. Oklahoma was one of these states. My own district was shut down for eight days. While I came away from this experience saddened by the unresponsiveness of our elected officials to the current state of education in Oklahoma, I have been left with a sense of renewed energy in that I feel more compelled than ever to be an active advocate for music education, both at the state and national level. Until state legislators understand that funding for music education does not just mean improved pay for teachers, but that the bigger picture is the need for funding for our students, this will be a constant issue.
What do you see as the major challenges facing NAfME?
I think a major challenge for NAfME is going to be demonstrating to prospective members the benefit and value of joining/belonging to the organization. The younger generation of teachers doesn’t seem to feel the need to join organizations, perhaps because of membership cost, perhaps because they don’t feel that the organization speaks to their needs.
How should our Association respond to these challenges?
Every successful professional organization constantly reevaluates their policies and procedures to meet the needs of their members, and while NAfME has done well in keeping in “tune” with its membership, it will need to continue to evolve if it expects to meet the needs of this new generation of teachers. This can be done in many ways. One would be by surveying current members, especially those who are new to the workforce, to get an idea of what benefits the younger generation of teachers would like to receive from NAfME. Also, those who have belonged to CNAfME are more likely to join NAfME once they have graduated and have a teaching position, so putting an emphasis on the expansion of our CNAfME chapters would be another way to attract new members. Also, while membership fees for NAfME are comparable to other professional organizations, the cost is still relatively high for someone who has just entered the teaching profession. While there is a first-year teacher discount for teachers who were members of CNAfME, perhaps offering a discount for all first-year teachers would be a possibility. Ultimately, we must strive to meet the needs of all our members if we wish to remain a viable resource for music education teachers.