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Teacher of the Week

On a daily basis, I am blown away by the work of educators the world over. Not only am I lucky enough to have crossed paths with inspirational teachers throughout my life but many of you share your stories of incredible people you’ve had the joy of encountering – people who are changing the world one student at a time. Every Thursday, I will share a new “Teacher of the Week” and invite you to submit your nominations below.

TOTW WILL PAUSE OVER CHRISTMAS AND RESUME IN 2019

Your Nominations

Steve Durtschi

Steve Durtschi is one of the hardest working teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. His dedication to his students and the art of Choral conducting is unparalleled. During my time working with Steve Durtschi I learned so much about musicality and appreciation for the benefit of hard work. Steve Durtschi has been teaching all Choral and AP Music Theory classes at Timpanogos High School since 2010. During his time there his choirs have achieved the highest ranks possible at festivals they’ve participated in.

Mr. Robinson

Mr. Robinson is the highlight of everyone’s day every day. He is the kindest director I have ever had. For many of us he is more than a teacher or director, he is a good friend. Mr. Robinson is always pushing us to do our best, but in a fun and kind way. He challenges us and makes us want to be as great as we can be. He also very humble. If we don’t do well at competition he puts it all on himself and tells us he is sorry he didn’t do something different, which personally I think takes some guts even if he isn’t right about it being his fault. Mr. Robinson really knows a lot about music and he always wants to teach us a new thing to make us better.

Richard Medrano

With his open heart and musicality, Rich has given back to the community. He conducts with the City of Angels Community Choirs in Granada Hills, CA. This community choir includes the Master Chorale, as well as Children’s Choir. His emapthy and open arms invite you to join not only a group of singers, but a family – a humble family that creates wonderful music for the community. Rich has given the choir the opportunity to go Christmas caroling at a local hospital each year in December. He has also dedicated a concert for the children and has raised money for children’s scholarships. Rich has dedicated engraved hand bells of those who lost their lives in Sandy Hook.

Andrew Robinson

Mr. Robinson came into Munster High School my freshman year, and completely changed my outlook on music, and I know he has with so many other people. Everyday he sacrifices so much for our choirs, and always wants the best for every single student. He has a personal connection with every kid, and finds the best opportunities for us, one including us going to Carnegie Hall to be conducted by Mr. Whitacre himself. He has taught so many of us about compassion, and how music can be a way of expressing ourselves. He is the most honest man you will ever meet, and can teach you what it means to be in a choir.

Mrs. Kristen Johnson

Mrs. Johnson isn’t just an incredible music teacher, but also an incredible person. Mrs. J takes the time to get to know every single one of her choir students, even if it’s just talking to them after class. Mrs. J cares so much about every single one of her students, and she lets them know that. My freshman year of high school, we were both new kids, you could say. She was a new teacher in a school, and I a new student. The previous teacher had left her mark, and constantly Mrs. J would hear “That’s not how we did it before,” and would constantly be reminded that she was new. But she learned, she became a better teacher and person, and now she’s making her mark. I cannot thank Mrs. J enough for everything she’s ever done for me. She gave me a place to call home when my house wasn’t safe. She gave me a place to laugh, cry, and feel emotions I thought weren’t possible in my life anymore. Thank you Mrs. Johnson, you saved my life.

Wesley Singleton

Wesley Singleton is the epitome of a life-changing teacher! He never lets his choirs be anything but their absolute best and promotes a humble personality all of the time. He pushes us all to never stop working and always find ways to improve. Mr. Singleton makes Choir a positive community for everyone and causes his students to be passionate about music. Finally, he works EXTREMELY hard, yet he never expects any praise.

Hope Milthaler

Mrs. Milthaler is a dedicated choral educator and friend. She is by far the smartest person I have ever met, with the most conducting savvy, theoretical knowledge, and pure vocal talent I have ever encountered in a single human being. She is an amazing teacher not only because of her extreme musical awesomeness, but because she inspires every student, no matter how hard it may be. She helps students in need, emotionally, spiritually, and even financially. Her choir program turns no student away, even in extremely difficult situations. Mrs. Milthaler deserves the world, and as students, we can never repay her for the her incredible impact on our lives.

Mrs Anne Williams

Mrs. Williams works so hard on make sure everything is perfect. Mrs. Williams makes sure her students know what they’re doing. Not only is she a teacher, but she’s in a choir herself. Mrs. Williams works hard on fixing the mistakes that are made so we can sound right. Mrs. Williams teaches at two schools. She teaches at a middle school and a high school. She takes us to festivals and big sing california. Mrs. Williams Takes time to teach her students music theory. Mrs. Williams is one of the most hard working teachers and she takes faith in what she is doing.

Jason Bean

Mr. Bean prepares us, as highschoolers, to sing at the collegiate and professional level. However, what he has taught us more importantly is compassion and perseverance. Regardless of what is going on in his life outside of the class room, he goes above and beyond for his students. Anyone that gets to be a part of the choral program has a family that will truly be there for them through all of lifes challenges, and we have Mr. Bean to thank for that community and support. He truly changes lives one student at a time. Thank you for everything, Mr. Bean.

Dr. Egidijus Kaveckas (Lithuania)

Egidijus Kaveckas, Artistic Director of Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, is one of the most dedicated musicians we have ever met. Always fully committed to music, he has taught us, that once everyone is sincerely in it, choral singing becomes magic. Since last year when Egidijus started working with us, we have been motivated by his strong sense of responsibility and great work ethics. A natural perfectionist who believes that true beauty can be achieved, he persuades all singers to get the best out of them. Sometimes, when we receive his emails written in the early AM hours, we wonder if he has stayed awake long into the night, or has woken up very early to work on planning our repertoire and other matters. Despite his almost obsessive work habits and orientation to details, Egidijus is emphatic and friendly, his politeness and “no drama” approach keeps rehearsals cozy and goal oriented. We would like to thank him for being a great musician, teacher, and a wonderful person.

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.

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

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 Brack

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.

Lindsay Lowe

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.

Holly Bacha

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!

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Nominate a Teacher

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