Dr. Stephen Bolster
He is a compassionate, passionate person in everyday life and it comes through in the music he makes. He is like family to me and always made me feel like I mattered.
Mrs. Ruby Robertson-Knox
Mrs. Ruby Robertson-Knox, Music Director at Oak Knoll School, has been a part of the music world from her childhood, later studying at Baylor U, and teaching for 40+ years. She fosters a special choral community of singers from grades 7-12, a drama troop, full musical, masses, and two chamber choirs. Service is also one of the biggest aspects of OKS and Ms. Knox’s philosophy. Ms. Knox teaches us to be grateful for our school, one another, and music. She is passionate for the arts and knows the powers of choral music to heal and make community. Music brings her happiness and joy, thus bringing it to students. She aims to better us and implores students, who she calls her children, to be passionate about their dreams. Ms. Knox’s talents are countless: a stunning singer, pianist, and conductor who conducts from the piano bench, never missing a cue while playing beautifully. She is there for all of us. Her light is felt by all. “Ruby” is truly a valuable gem and shining star.
Ms. Lisa Faletto
Ms. Faletto is the director of choirs at Kankakee Valley High School and is the most gracious, kind, and positive woman I’ve ever met. She is a brilliant woman who knows exactly how to push you to be the best singer you can be. Ms. Faletto has built an amazing choral program during her time at KV, and I feel proud to have been part of her building blocks. Her wisdom and expertise have inspired every student she’s taught–personally, she’s the entire reason I wanted to be a teacher. She’s passionate and wants to unlock that passion in other people, and she always, always has a smile on her face. She’s the gold standard of choral directors and I hope I can be half as awesome as she always was!
Mr. Mathew Krage
Mr. Krage has close to tripled the size of the choir program at Virginia Secondary School since he started. He has also brought a new level of intensity and persistence which keeps the high school kids engaged in their learning and striving for perfection. He also seems to balance his life in such a way that allows him to successfully direct a community choir, a high school musical, a community musical, and put together presentations for the ACDA Minnesota Conference. He has raised the level of musicianship on the Iron Range and continues to grow and build a superb choral program.
Kathy Cunningham has been the Choral director at Gladwin High School for the past 20 years and has brought our program from one of the lowest ranked in Michigan to one of the highest. Her constant encouragement, kindness, hilarity and openness make her a great teacher. However, what makes her an amazing teacher is how dynamic and impactful her teaching is. The skillful technique and her constant dedication to new ideas helps Gladwin Choirs create amazing music, and her warmth and comfort helps Gladwin Choirs to become a family. Personally, she has made an incredibly large impact on my life and my career choice. From comforting me after a rough State Choir audition, driving me to rehearsals, helping me improve my solo singing voice, to being able to have intelligent music conversations with students, her teaching has made me become a better musician and person.
Brandon is one of the most positive teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. He’s such a warm and inviting person that you can’t help but smile when you come to practice. He always takes into account his singers’ individual strengths and makes sure everyone enjoys the experience. His excitement for music is infectious and I’ve never left rehearsal feeling down. Even on the worst days Brandon has this way of lifting your spirits and engaging you in the beauty of the music.
Ms. Lowe is the director of the choirs at Centennial High School. She has created an amazing choir and an amazing atmosphere. Choir, to me and so many others, has become a home, family, and a safe place, and that is because of her. She has improved our choir to the point of being nationally ranked, but for her, it is never about the score or the rankings, it’s about the music and about us. She teaches not only music but also life. And she has made choir an atmosphere that heals. She leads not only by stepping up but also by stepping back, and she trusts us as much as we trust her. She has given me a new perspective on life and taught me more than I ever thought I could learn in choir. I couldn’t ask for a better director or friend.
Mr. Andre Clark
Andre Clark came into the Westwood choir department for the 2017-2018 school year and did nothing short of utterly transform it. From a program that had no director and a little less then 90 students the summer before the year started, to a program with over 120 kids and two full time directors, he has revolutionized our choral scene. We’ve grown as singers, but also as a community. He came in and respected our traditions and helped us craft new ones, and hell he’s only been there one year, and he’s now head of the fine arts department. Supportive, encouraging, and exceptionally loving, Andre Clark is much more than just choir director. He is a father figure to many of his students and proves time & time again that he will always be there when we need him. As a recently graduated senior, Mr. Clark still inspires me daily and I cannot thank him enough for the way he has impacted my life.
Mrs. Bacha reminded all of us that music, isn’t just about singing with your voice. It’s about singing with passion and singing something you enjoy. She was an amazing teacher, but an even better friend. You could talk to her about personal troubles, worldy troubles, she was like everyones mom. She never let anyone stand in the way of her weirdness, she never cared what everyone thought about her. She always let her true self shine through to everyone else, and if I must say so, it was contagious. We would always leave class smiling wondering what the next class would hold. She’s so kind and always thought of all of us as her kids. She always made sure we were laughing when we left her class. She was an amazing teacher of music and always challenged us to push ourselves, to go outside the box and normality of ourselves.
Dr Jim Henry
I second the nomination of Jim Henry. I never sang in any organized group before joining the Ambassadors of Harmony–through his encouragement and perseverance, I have come to absolutely love both singing and performing before live audiences. Plus, he’s great at his day job, teaching music to college students. He travels the midwest, and really the world coaching choirs to be the best they can be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Henry_(singer)
Dr. Stephen Bolster
Dr. “B”, as most students refer to him, is a professor in the Music Department at Berea College. In the past he has served as Department Chair and is very involved in the life and community of the college and the quaint, small town of Berea. He is a very passionate and devoted man to his family, his students and his life’s work. Music “moves” him and it is evident in the time and emotion he pours into his passion. He listens, advises and cares for his students and their life choices and pursuits. In many ways I have seen him as a father figure in my life from my early days at Berea and even now, 20+ years after graduating. I am able to see him when I return to the campus for Homecoming. He and his wife Sandy, an IT professor, also at Berea, will be retiring together this year after being a part of Berea life for almost 30 years. What an honor it would be for him to be named “Teacher of the Week” by Eric Whitacre!
Dr. Stephen C. Bolster
With his retirement eminent, I am reminded of what a amazing and beautiful person and teacher Dr. Bolster is. Like many college professors, he is well versed and in his craft and profession, both as a choral director and voice teacher, particularly in his knowledge of repertoire and talent for programming, but what makes him outstanding in my mind is the depth and breadth of his sheer passion for choral music and singing. His willingness to share his intense emotional and physical responses to music making are both heartwarming and inspiring, & his love for his students and the music seems unending.
Lara Reem is the kindest, most outgoing, and dedicated teacher I have ever gotten the chance to learn from. Every day she makes it a goal to encourage her students and helps make the most out of their rehearsal time. Lara Reem is more than a teacher, she is a mentor, a therapist, and a great friend. She will help lead the band when the director is gone, she takes time to listen when her students have an individual problem, and brightens the mood of the whole class every day. Mrs. Reem shares all ends of her knowledge of choral music, and after 25+ years of teaching, she decides to further her education by taking classes while teaching. I am a former student of Lara Reem. I have decided to not continue choir for other reasons, yet her wit, determination, and kindness inspires me all the time.
Mr. Duarte is such an amazing choir director. When he conducts the choir, he brings in a sense of magic into the music. Not only is he talented at music, but he is a father figure to the choir. He comes with us to camps and workshops, he comes and supports us at our outside events we have that are outside of school choir, and most of all, he talks to us whenever something is wrong in our lives. He is always there to tell us that it’s going to be okay and to keep thinking on the positive side of everything.
Ms. Malone is our new assistant choir director at CPHS (working with Lisa Holt)! She is so caring and works really hard for us and the choir program. She’s already connected with us and she has an extensive understanding to connect through music and teaches us to do the same. In addition to helping us prepare for TMEA, she is also teaching the first AP Music Theory class at our school!
Lisa S. Holt
Lisa Holt has worked so hard for our choir program. She’s brought us closer together and created such beautiful music. She even got us the status of an honor choir at TMEA! She has been running our wonderful choir program with no assistant director for four years and made a huge success out of it. She works so hard for our success and puts so much of her time and effort into the choir program.
Sutton M. Morgan
Sutton Morgan has been a JR. High Art Teacher in Utah for over 20 years. She has tirelessly advocated for the importance of art and meaning in public education in a state that struggles to recognize that public education is important to any informed society. Students turn to Sutton as she fosters an environment in her art room that welcomes diversity and individual identity, while grounded in accountability, so students who struggle to fit into structured systems like public school turn to her. Sutton plans curriculum around learning goals and skills rather than on predetermined tasks, so there is room for students to introduce their own creativity into learning. This year, Sutton’s school is under construction. She has invested countless personal hours of time and effort to keep her classroom welcoming to individuality and creativity. Sutton exemplifies what it means to be a public school teacher. Transparency: Sutton is my wife. But that is not why I nominate her.
I was in 7th grade and my band director, Andrew Chiciak, lamented he didn’t have any Caribbean music for the band to play for the school’s themed Spirit Week. Somehow we got to talking, and he led me through writing my first band arrangement at age 12. Hearing my peers play the notes I put on the page lit a spark in me, and I went on to write hundreds of band and choral arrangements and compositions during my high school years, and without that spark, I wouldn’t be a professional film and television composer and arranger today. Thanks, Mr. Chiciak.
Mrs. Clausen is the kindest most dedicated teacher anyone could ask for. When it comes to music she knows how to be patient, and kind when teaching. Along with the clever puns and light hearted music jokes, she always makes sure every single person knows not only how to read music and understand but also, how to perform. Lastly, she is the kindest human-being when you walk into her choir room she is always smiling with a bright smile and is willing to help anyone who needs it, she takes time out of her day to get to know every student and is willing to help them however she can. She is the most amazing teacher anyone could ask for she’s wise, selfless, and kind to everyone she meets and truly does make her program feel like a family. She is also so talented in a way to make everyone strive for greatness and has built such an amazing program which, is a safe place in our high school. I am so proud to be under her direction and I would not want to learn from any other Choral Director
I’m nominating Lauren because in her comparably short five years of teaching, she’s become a true asset to our public middle school. She’s inserted herself on various committees to give voice to both traditional and non-traditional learners from the viewpoint of a creative arts educator. She’s also on our state general music board. She routinely goes above and beyond for our students – creating a safe space supported by admin for students to eat their lunch and decompress. It’s apparent in our school that not only is Lauren a rising top notch educator employing new and innovative ideas in the music classroom and choral rehearsal, but she values the voice of our students outside the music classroom. She’s a tireless advocate for the students, their music education and the profession.