As a young music educator, he consistantly inspires his students to strive for the best not by forcing them but by encouraging them. I watch how he gives them his expectations and how they accept the challenge. He gives each student a great deal of respect and encourages them to respect each other. His leadership skills give each student opportunities to excel as leaders. He has helped his students become recognized for their talent and discipline. Their band has been a ISSMA state marching band finalist for the last eight years. His concert band receives gold ratings and also earns “with distinction ” classification. Eric is a good Christian man giving his students an excellent role model to emulate. He and his wife are raising their three children to love God, family, and willingly share their talents with others. In my 47 years as a teacher, there are few teachers that have impressed me as much as Eric Criss. Eric is a member of PHI BETA MU, selected by Indiana band direct.
Originally, I was afraid to move up to the high school because of the stories I heard about Mr. Huskey. But, in the three years I have been in his choral program, I have seen how his teaching has changed the lives of many students. He can be stubborn at times, but that is what pushes us to do better. Our choir grown to have wonderful opportunity to perform in so many places— our school, at orchestra concerts, and soon at All-State and SWACDA. He has taught us how to lead with confidence, sing with heart and passion, and most of all how to create a family in choir. We love and laugh together, and it truly shows in our performances and in the classroom. Mr. Huskey’s work has inspired me to become a choral director, and I cannot wait to teach the lessons he has taught me throughout the years.
Mrs. Byrn was my music school teacher for 13 years, from Kindergarten until I graduated as a Senior in high school four years ago. During that time, she taught me everything that I currently know about music, providing me with the knowledge and skills to progress myself as a musician as I moved on into college and sang in the Purdue Varsity Glee Club for the last four years. Most students have Mrs. Byrn all 13 years of their educational career until they graduate high school, creating a bond with the students and really knowing their strengths as a musician. She continues to show compassion, dedication, and truly has joy doing her job every single day. With that, Mrs. Byrn was recently diagnosed with breast cancer—it has left her discouraged as she continues her job as a music educator. By nominating her as the Teacher of the Week, I’m hoping this will remind her of the immense impact that she has left on each one of her students. We wouldn’t be who we are without her.
Ms. Godwin is an incredible teacher and person. She hasn’t been teaching for long, but she’s already done incredible things for our program. Of course, she’s a fantastic musician – her taste is daring, but impeccable. Her first year at our school she took our concert choir to state for the first time in ages. She always offers us a good challenge, but nothing we can’t accomplish under her guidance. But that isn’t what makes her the wonderful teacher she is. What stands her apart, in my mind at least, is her connection with each and every student she meets. And that’s not just students in her choirs, either; she always sees the bright side of every person. She puts her heart and soul into her students and it really makes all the difference. I, and I would dare to presume all of her students, would do anything so she could know what a difference she makes. Because she might not be remarkable, not on first glance. But she makes an impact on each and every one of us.
Dr Hillman inspires all musicians to do their absolute best in everything they do: in music and in life. He is an incredible educator that connects with each of his students. Many of his students can refer to Dr Hillman as a close friend. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award. His dedication to his craft is unparalleled, and he impacts the lives of everyone around him.
Mr. Turner is the head of the music department at my school and he was has also been my chorus teacher for 2 years. He has been teaching at my school for over 30 years and it’s easy to see how committed and excited he is to be such a vital aspect of, not only our school, but the lives of so many kids. You can tell that he actually really enjoys teaching and he loves to make sure that we are living up to our best potential. He was the one that introduced us to Eric Whitacre and expressed his admiration for his work. In fact, one of the pieces were are doing this year is “I carry your heart”. Even though he knew it was a challenging piece for us, he still had confidence in our ability, which is one of the best qualities of a chorus teacher: confidence. He is easily one of my favorite teachers at our school and me, along with so many others, have learned so much from him, I believe he deserves recognition for his immense dedication and kindness.
Mr. Turner directs my chamber singers group at my school, and you can always tell that has each student’s own musical growth in mind with everything that we do. He also clearly cares more about the process and the learning when we tackle a new piece than the final result. He always tells us that every performance is a different musical moment and we should appreciate these moments as they come to us. This chamber group is what’s inspired me to start writing classical music of my own and now I consider singing a huge part of my life, and that’s definitely thanks to Mr. Turner, he’s been a hugely important part of my growth as a musician, and everyone I’ve talked to has had the same experience, we’re all incredibly lucky to have a director like him, we couldn’t have come this far without him.
It’s difficult to describe the impact Ms. Beck has without sounding cheesy or cliché. Her classroom embodies the meaning of community, with a range of students from beginner to advanced caring and supporting one another through the celebration of music. In addition to being a fantastic teacher and accomplished musician, it would not be uncommon to hear students say that her classes are the reason they wake up in the morning and choose to come to school. Despite contrary opinions, Ms. Beck has always made us, her students, feel that we are important to her and that music should be priority in our lives. She is unafraid to fight for the needs of students and for our music program, exemplifying the best qualities of leadership to her students and the community. Her hard work and dedication to us means that any student who passes through her classroom walks away with a deeper appreciation and love for singing.
After starting at Angola High School four years ago, Mr. Keiser has changed students’ lives and the community’s view of the music program. He has opened the door for countless musical opportunities, providing a space where students can explore their musicianship and life skills. Although he is young, he is wise far beyond his years when it comes to musicianship and leadership skills. Mr. Keiser strives to raise strong future leaders that will leave high school and impact the world positively and effectively. He deserves more recognition than he may receive sometimes and we are forever grateful for his work. Thank you, Mr. Keiser, for changing our outlook on music and on life.
Mr. Keiser is the type of person you only come across once in a life time. It’s not very often you find someone that not only has so much passion for their work, but has even more passion for each individual he crosses paths with. He prioritizes the personal connection with each student and creates a circle of trust within the program, the school, and the community. Mr. Keiser always has an open door whether someone is having personal struggle, needs help with music, or just wants someone to talk to. The students see Mr. Keiser not only as band director, but as a friend. He inspires us to express ourselves through music and to hold nothing back. Mr. Keiser makes it known that stepping outside of your comfort zone and putting one’s self out there will lead to great advancement and success in life. He is teaching life lessons to students that will one day progress the world to be a more positive and amicable place to live. Thank you, Mr. Keiser, for impacting our lives for the better.
Mr. Bennett has been the conductor at my school since it opened in 2008. The program began as a small ensemble, no more than 30 kids. He turned it into a state/region renowned choir now with over 200 students who share the same passion: making music. Mr. Bennett instils a devotedness for music in every student that he works with. The choir I participate in is one of the top groups in my school and the state. We wouldn’t be where we are without him; we wouldn’t be WHO we are without him. With every piece we sing, he makes us look beyond notes and rhythms; he pushes us to connect to the music and to each other bringing every one of us, including the audience, closer. In every competition and conference we attend, he views it as an opportunity to impact peoples lives, which means more than any award. Music allows us to heal, it allows us to connect and access emotions we’ve been blind to. We can all say we’re better people because of Mr. Bennett.
Mr. Whisler is the best choral director and teacher I have ever met. Every year, the choir takes a trip out of state like Hawaii, Chicago, NYC, and Washington D.C. He never ceases to amaze me with how good he is at planning everything and how he manages to book our performances and get us there on time, with a nice warmup beforehand. He does so much for his choirs outside of school hours and no one realizes how much time and commitment it takes to be a choir teacher and how amazing it is to turn a non singer into a singer in less than a year. This past year, our choir got to perform with a choir in Whittier, CA named “Chorale Bel Canto” and we learned a 16 page Bach piece in a little less than 2 months, which we have never done before, and learned all of our LAMC High School Festival songs in the mist of learning the Bach piece. It was a challenge, but Mr. Whisler helped us get through it. I was in his choir for 4 years and every year we learn about 50 songs and they sound amazing.
Mr. Harris is a great teacher, and honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. He’s passionate about choir, and this passion and energy makes choir so much more fun and alive. He teaches well, making it so we can sing comfortably while using proper technique. He expects a lot from his students, as he trusts them to try their very best, whether it’s in front of an audience, or just practising in the music room.
Ryan Harris is my current choir teacher and has been teaching me since 6th grade. He began Chamber Choir at my school, and without him, I wouldn’t have gone on into choir. I was doubtful of my capabilities in 6th grade, but he made me audition for the advanced middle school group, and I got in. Throughout his 6 years of teaching at our school, he has built the choir program up from scratch, which is truly remarkable. We now get invited to festivals and different schools and such.
He is super informative while also making it fun and easy to remember. No one walks into his class without a smile and if they did they’d smile the moment he said something.
Mr. Harris is very encouraging. He has inspired so many people in his classes to pursue choir/music as a career. He pushes us all to be the best people we can be, and has built such a strong choir community.
Mrs. Susan Zemlin
Mrs. Zemlin is the most amazing teacher I have ever had. During my 4 years in her choir program she made me feel welcomed and like I was a part of something bigger than just a group of people who make music. She is committed to the music and making something amazing together but more importantly she is committed to her students and their well beings. She is an advocate for crushing the mental health stigma in high schoolers and has been a great resource for me and others, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have made it through high school without her. I’m a freshman in college now and she checks up on me from time to time, I look forward to those text messages and emails more than almost anything else. She also taught me what it means to be a leader and the part of a group. I was an officer for our concert choir and as honored as I was she gave me so much responsibility, she made sure I knew it wasn’t about me, it was about the choir as a whole. She’s absolutely deserving of this.
Andrew Drinkall has been the most influential person that I have ever met. He is the reason that I am becoming a music educator and he truly cares for the students, teaching them to be real people. Also, shows them the use of music to be the best person that they can possibly be. That is why he should be the Teacher of the Week and more past that.
My Grandson’s Football Coach @ Ritenour Middle School
I watch him play a against several teams and he was the only coach out there against I bet every bit of four coaches and he won most of his games by himself….
Mrs. Mackey is a new teacher at our school this year. Losing our last teacher was heartbreaking, but there could not have been a better person to take her place. Mrs. Mackey has continued to build our choir, despite so many obstacles she is facing and being in a new school. She loves unconditionally, picks amazing music, and lets students be involved in everything. She is creating incredible music, and has made me love it even more. I am beyond grateful for her and I can’t wait to see what she does the rest of this year. She is literally incredible!
Dr. Hinson has been working at Piedmont College for 25+ years as a professor, conductor, and associate dean. He has turned an extremely small program into one with 200+ students from all over campus who come together to create beautiful music. His passion for choral music goes above and beyond, and he strives to show others the power of music. He is famous for saying, “Choral music can literally save the world.” He believes there is no time for hate or prejudice in choir, that the simple act of coming together and working to accomplish a single goal of creating powerful, moving music is enough to warm even the coldest of hearts. Dr. Hinson is a blessing to every student he has had in the past twenty five years, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition.
Jessica is a high school director who is supportive of all her students. She encourages them to stay in music going into college, but understands that all people have differing strengths and refuses to push someone into a music major. She is the reason I am a Music Educator now.
I would like to nominate Mr. David Berger for “Best Piano Teacher” because he inspires his students to do their very best at “Playing beautiful music!!” He encourages his students to work towards their fullest potential. His students are taught music theory, technique, and scales. In addition, by encouraging students to play the piano or sing at his recitals, he boosts their self-esteem and self confidence. After students learn these skills, they are able to play with passion, released from their hearts and souls and transferred into their fingers, effortlessly flowing up and down the keyboard, producing beautiful, heart-felt music. It is through Mr. Berger’s knowledge, love and passion for teaching that has touched the lives of so many. Being one of Mr. Berger’s students, I can honestly say that he has touched my life and given me one of the greatest gifts. He inspired me to play the piano with the passion and love of music that was limited until he taught me to play.
Stacy Heston is my High School Choir teacher. She does so much for those of us who love singing and want to make a career out of it. She puts in hours outside of her contract for All State Auditions, people auditioning for Solo/Ensemble, people auditioning for college choirs, and our all elected group of singers called Electos. Stacy Heston is an amazing woman who does not get enough credit for what she does for all of us choir kids at West Hancock High School. She has pushed us so much to be the best we can be, to the point where this school year (2019/2020), as a high school choir, will be singing two Eric Whitacre pieces. Her hard work and determination has made this choir better than it has ever been. She pushes us to be better than we were the year before, every single year. Though we are just a small choir, in a small school, in a small town in Iowa, we are some of the best choral singers around because of Stacy Heston.
Mr. Robert Vandergriff
For a decade, our school had two completely horrible choir directors. In only four years, Mr. Vandergriff has taken our choral program to the next level. Every day the choir students at Oscar A Carlson are excited to sing and learn something new. He has forever changed music for so many students. The memories made in his class are unforgettable and some of the happiest times. With him directing us, we came in second at a national competition. It didn’t matter that we didn’t get first, we came from a small city in the midwest all the way to New York and we all were excited to just be there. He’s created so many opportunities for his students to learn and grow even as he’s growing himself as an educator. I am beyond excited to see where our program will be next year and beyond sad that I am coming close to leaving. Because of him, I decided that I want to be a music teacher and help change the world one student at a time, just as he’s changed mine and countless others.