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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.

Your Nominations

Elizabeth Bennett

Mrs. Bennett is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. As an orchestra director, she is always promoting a deep love and appreciation for music. She is dedicated to spreading messages of kindness and compassion, and she incorporates various service projects into our musical lives to emphasize the fact that music can change the world. She truly cares about every one of her students and is always ready to encourage and support her students with life outside of the orchestra. Mrs. Bennett is an incredible teacher and all-around great human being.

Amanda Hanzlik

Amanda Hanzlik has conducted many honorable choirs besides the one at home (EO Smith High School), including the Rhode Island All-State choir and the children’s choirs at the Aspen Music Festival. Her commitment to the choir and her personal attention to every single member stands out among other teachers of her caliber. She doesn’t just improve her students as musicians, but makes them better people. She has taught many the importance of trusting your gut, as well as really letting go of yourself, and trusting every singer in the group for the sake of the song. If only there were a teacher of the year award, she would instantly snatch such a title. Nominated by: Sarah.


Mrs. Hanzlik is an amazing teacher and an extremely hardworking and caring person. She does everything she can in order to ensure that her students have the best musical experience possible during their high school career. She encourages everyone to sing, and truly cares about what she does. Nominated by: Jaclyn.


Most capable, flexible, helpful, and sweet choir directors of all time. She is who brought us into recognition from America’s Got Talent. She is who also got actual composers of songs to come rehearse with us (especially Jacob Narverud). All in all, E O Smith wouldn’t exist without her! Nominated by: Oswald.


Amanda Hanzlik is a fantastic choir director for many reasons. She challenges her students with music that is advanced and usually feel good pieces. The students learn so much about music from this in the technical sense and they learn the joy from singing with a group. Rehearsals may be intense however she truly preps students that wish to pursue music in college and beyond. The connections made with the students and Ms. Hanzlik manifest for a happy environment that students look forward and love to be in. She truly gives her all when finding ways to give her students experiences that will enrich their music education and make the choir even more connected, turning into one big singing family. Nominated by: Annie.


She is my choir director and if there was anyone who is supposed to be a choir teacher it would be her. Without Mrs. Hanzlik I wouldn’t have grown so much in my singing abilities in just these past few years. Her love and passion for her work and students is amazing and I am so beyond grateful to have her as my teacher. She’s so good at what she does and really grows beautiful and well-rounded singers. Nominated by: Maddie.


Mrs Hanzlik is such an amazing teacher in so many ways. She genuinely cares about her students and has done everything to prepare us for performances, and the numerous auditions I have had. She is so kind and has taught me more than I ever thought I could know about music. She is also the reason I am planning on going into a music major. She works so so so hard to give us the best education and offers us as many opportunities as we can get. She deserves this more than anyone!!!! Nominated by: Madison.


Mrs. Hanzlik has not only been a constant source of comfort and support throughout my senior year. She has been raw, honest, and in tune with students’ struggles and needs in her class. She goes above and beyond to make class safe and exciting and is able to connect students to their work. She teaches in a way in which students can truly connect with their music and the results are extraordinary. In teaching and personal connection, she surpasses all expectations I have ever had for a teacher and goes well beyond what her job requires of her. Her work in class not only shows a deep knowledge of music, but a personal connection to the arts that goes deeper than the surface, she is an inspiration to all in her class. Nominated by: Emma.


I am nominating Mrs. Hanzlik because she always pours her heart and soul into every rehearsal and class period. Mrs. Hanzlik has gone to great lengths to provide an extraordinary choral experience for our choir. Nominated by: Lukus.


Amanda Hanzlik is not only a wonderful teacher with massive amounts of knowledge, but she inspires each and every one of her students. She holds together the group and it is clear to us that she truly cares about not only the quality of our choir, but the experience of each singer in the group. She is a wonderful, caring individual with such an enormous love for choral music. I cannot think of a better candidate to receive this title. Nominated by: Caroline.

Daniel Stowe

Dan Stowe is in his 26th year as the director of the University of Notre Dame Glee Club. He also serves as the conductor of Notre Dame’s Orchestra and Collegium Musicum. You cannot be in the same room with Dan without learning something, whether how to finesse the attack on a note, or how to achieve success and remain a man of humility. Dan stretches his students’ worldview; he consistently emphasizes the need to experience life outside of the rehearsal room, outside of the present day, outside of the country. He is principally concerned with the formation of conscientious citizens of the world, and his students’ true loyalty and respect is earned. He has a far-reaching knowledge that is the product of intense curiosity and commitment to doing the work. His passion for learning is a natural partner of the dichotomy that is music: an analytical exercise to be carefully approached and studied, and an act of creation justified and beautiful for its own sake. From your students–thank you.

Angie Doctor

Angie Doctor is a phenomenal jazz voice teacher. She has built a jazz vocal program at Ruth Asawa school of the arts from nothing. She works tremendously hard to accommodate all of her students needs and has changed many students lives through jazz music. Ms. Doctor doesn’t give up on her students and often stays till 7 or 8pm each night to make sure every student has the repertoire and information they need to thrive.

Brad Comeaux

Mr. Comeaux is the most dedicated band director I know. From the way he talks to his students, to pushing us to be our best selfs (musically and emotionally), to how every little detail for our week is posted and thoroughly reminded to us every day, to the way he conducts the beautiful timbre of our music. He goes far beyond what’s expected of him and strives to leave his students with life lessons that they can take with them far into life.

Levi Duncan

Ross S. Sterling High School’s Levi Duncan is hands down the most inspirational, life-changing, and hardworking choir director I have ever encountered in my time as a musician. His instinct of recognition for potential is amazing, and the way he harnesses that potential is astounding. Myself, along with countless others, have been fortunate enough to have been recognized by Mr. Duncan at such a young age and be introduced to our personal inner musicians that he saw laying inside of us. Along with pushing us extensively musically, he encourages us to grow morally and professionally, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Bill Boardman

Mr. Boardman was an incredibly astounding and captivating choral director from the first time I met him. He only teaches at the high school level, but he strives for excellence from all his students during each and every performance. His passion for educating and dedication to his craft can be not only heard, but felt whenever listening to his choirs perform. Mr. Boardman makes a point of always teaching his students how to work dynamically when learning difficult pieces, while also teaching them to work cohesively as one unit to produce the best sound possible. I am truly honored to say that Mr. Boardman was my choral director through high school, and I will carry the passion for music that he gave me for the rest of my life.

Yair Corral Villegas

He is a children choir teacher in Sonora, México. He is helping them to learn and joy the blessing of music through choral music in boys and girls from 6 -21 years old. He has no profit and they have an invitation to sing in Chengdù, China in July 2019. Find him on facebook yair corral coro infantil de hermosillo.

Jason Allgair

Mr. Allgair is a phenomenal band director who cares about each of his students and takes the time to get to know each one individually. He comes in everyday with a smile and tells corny jokes to make his students laugh or roll their eyes. He takes the time to make sure each of his students are doing well academically, and offers to help them find help when they are struggling. He radiates joy and shares his love of music with each of his students and is an all around great person, in and out of the classroom.

Michelle Shmuel

It is with great honor that I write to you in support of Michelle Shmuel as an EW “Teacher Of The Week”. While Michelle is clearly an outstanding professional, mentor, musician and teacher, I believe she should be viewed foremost as an outstanding leader. After years of setting the standard as a “young” teacher, Michelle has now transitioned to a “seasoned veteran” who leads by example on a daily basis for not only her students but co-workers as well. Michelle’s unwavering approach to her daily tasks as an educator is a beacon of professionalism for all to see. She truly displays the philosophy that she is teaching young adults how to be better HUMAN BEINGS through singing, as opposed to simply becoming a good musician. She runs three choirs, as well as numerous smaller chamber groups with over 200 students enrolled. It does not matter what level of performer you are, if you are willing to put the work in, she is willing to give her time to teach you. Truly Inspirational!

Mr. Andrew Robinson

Our school has never seen a more dedicated, passionate teacher than Mr. Robinson. Everyday he motivates his students not only to learn great music but to be amazing people. Through the short time he has been at Munster High School, he has brought so much love to our choirs and has allowed us to have such amazing experiences including singing at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Mr. Whitacre himself. He never gives up on us even when we seem hopeless. He is incredibly humble and he’s always there for his students. He has touched our hearts and changed our lives for the better. All of us are so incredibly lucky to have him, and I know we will never have a director as amazing as Mr. Robinson ever again. He is truly one of a kind.

Martha Helen Schmidt

Ms. Schmidt has taught me and so many other students what it is to love music. She has spent her whole life writing and teaching, and I am so blessed to have been taught by someone with an enormous amount of talent in just one finger tip.

Dr. René Clausen

I nominate Dr. Rene Clausen at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. For over 20 years, he has taken his students on a personal journey; learning about music, learning about themselves. He is lighthearted and funny, serious and intense. His search for excellence in each and every sound is infectious. A simple 8-part E-chord was enough to cleanse my soul from whatever I carried on my shoulders. I came to choir to sing and left with a family. I will always remember the wink and smile after the final cutoff, “Happy Birthday” on the piano, and his stunning ability to pull a limerick out of thin air. Experiencing choral music the way I did with him, in his choir, is something I will never have again, and will cherish forever.

Emmanuella Mazile

Emmanuella Mazile teaches choir at Lowell Scott Middle School. She’s only in her second year of teaching and has already made such a difference in their music program and in the lives of her students. Her kids come to class excited to learn because she engages them with respect, humor, and love. They’re not just learning songs in Miss Mazile’s class; they’re learning how to be musicians. Parents, teachers, and students alike recognize how beautifully–and quickly–she’s transformed an “easy A” choir class into a high-quality music education. Emmanuella is an incredible, natural teacher and advocate for kids who are often navigating a tumultuous period of their lives. I met Emmanuella in college while we were both studying music. I’m so immensely proud of her and thankful to call her my best friend; she’s a daily source of inspiration for me and I’m absolutely thrilled for all of the students in the years to come who will get to learn music from Miss Mazile.

Chris Koehn

Chris Koehn treats every child he encounters at the Coweta band room as his own. There have been so many nights where he has slept at the band room because we have gotten back so late from an event and he still has stuff to do. During marching season, he and his wife (one of our other directors) put in some of their own money to make our show as great as possible. Mr. Koehn is one of the most compassionate and loving people that I have ever met and it is impossible to describe how great he is. He knows when we’re havibg an off day and does everything in his power to change that. He pushes all of us to do our best everyday yet never yells at us when he knows we could have done better. Mr. Koehn is one of the greatest men I have ever met and I wish every person had the chance to sit and learn under him or just be able to talk to him.

Sandra Chandler

Ms. Chandler is an outstanding teacher that motivates her students with her great creative talents.

Dr. Paul Torkelson

Dr. Paul Torkelson is the director of choral studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. He directs the Symphonic Choir, the Nevada Chamber Singers and teaches choral conducting. He has conducted many All-State choirs and is frequently a guest clinician at state ACDA conventions. Many students call him Dr. T. Dr. T is an amazing inspiration to me as well as many students that sing for him. He challenges us to think critically when it comes to singing with technique and text stress. He encourages his singers to sing with passion and think about what the music means to them. Dr. T has invited his singers to sing in Carnegie Hall and Europe through the MidAmerica Productions. Dr. T, your kindness, compassion and dedication has greatly impacted many singers. Thank you, Dr. T!

Tricia Ubrig

Mrs. Ubrig is the current High School Choir Director at Mesquite High School, but when I was with her she was the Choir Director at Alhambra High School in Phoenix, AZ. Mrs. Ubrig made choir a place that everyone could call home, regardless of what our actual home life was like. She inspired so many of us to be passionate about music. Within the 2004-2006 graduating class, 3 of us went on to become Choir Directors. Even now, as I am directing my own choir, I think of her often and how much she meant to me. She changed my life forever and I know is still doing the same for many others.

Taylor Watts

There are no words great enough to describe Mr. Watts. He has helped me through a really tough spot in my life and is the kind of teacher who you can go to for advice, whether it be a musical decision or a personal life decision. More than anything, though, he has helped me learn that it’s ok to be my crazy weird random self and that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you. I don’t know of anyone as nerdy about leadership/social psychology as he is and I cannot wait to be a band director to give others what band has given to me.

Heidi Forslund

Heidi Forslund is a force to be reckoned with. For 7 years, she commuted between two schools, Cavelero Mid High and Lake Stevens High School, so that we could have a strong program in our district. When Heidi arrived at Lake Stevens School District, she had very small numbers at both schools (a mere 25 at the high school) and choir was not a name in our community. For the next 7 years, she worked hard to build structure and family within the district’s choir program. She upped the program’s overall participation to around 190 students with 2 classes at Cavelero, 2 at the High school, and one smaller jazz choir in the morning. Over the years, we have gone on to win many awards and many 1+ scores at both schools. Choir became a known force in the community, one that even band couldn’t overshadow. Heidi is someone else. She taught us values that no other music teacher had taugh me and gives everything she has to make sure choir is a thing everyone wants to be a part of and feels welcome.

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Nominate a Teacher

All Honorees

Prof. Klaus-Jürgen Etzold

Prof. Klaus-Jürgen Etzold

This man is a force of nature. Based in Hannover, he has been involved in music at almost every level in Germany, in the classroom, on the stage, on committees, educating and creating new ensembles, taking them far and wide sharing culture and passion for music. His effusive charm sits alongside a determination to see each individual fulfil their dreams and potential.

Klaus-Jürgen, I thank you

Adam Orban (U.S.A.)

Adam Orban (U.S.A.)

Adam Orban or “Master Orbiwan” as we called him (if you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll get it,) was my high school choir teacher and has been one of the most influential people in my life and countless others. He taught me in chorus and music theory from 7th Grade through high school. I owe him an incredible gratitude for being one of the people to understand me for who I was and who broke my shell wide open and forced me to do things out of my comfort zone. He saw an awkward, shy 7th grader who wouldn’t speak up in class even if called on, and saw potential in him. His passion for choral music was also contagious. In his time in Sheldon, IA, he took our small choral program to unimaginable heights. At the height of the program, the jazz and show choirs got consistent 1st places and the concert choir was getting straight perfect scores at state contest. I am proud to say I am now a choral director myself and get to call him a colleague and a friend. He truly changed my life.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Adam.

Thank you Jacob for the nomination.

Paul Phoenix (U.K.)

Paul Phoenix (U.K.)

This man gave me a most precious gift. He helped me to rebuild my confidence and positivity which means more than I can say. He helped to change the colour and horizon of my world, both for my life and career. He let me know I am stronger than I can imagine. He generously shared his wisdoms and talents with great sense of humour and genuinely engaged the world through his golden voice and his golden heart. He inspired many people to become ‘a better version of themselves’. I will try to pass things I learned from him on to my students as well. Heartfelt thanks to Paul Phoenix – former King’s Singer and now Purple Vocals. You are an incredible man.

With thanks to Mingxia Xiao in Tianjin for the nomination.

Thank you, Paul, for changing the world one student at a time.

Claudio Silvestri (Italy)

Claudio Silvestri (Italy)

“Everyone is able to sing, there aren’t out of tune people”. – Claudio Silvestri

It’s been a privilege to read the stories of all those who contributed to nominated Maestro Silvestri.

Thank you, Claudio, for changing the world one student at a time.

Russ Otte (U.S.A.)

Thank you to Peter Hollens for nominating his high school choir teacher, Russ Otte.

Amanda Hanzlik (U.S.A.)

Amanda Hanzlik (U.S.A.)

With an incredible 9 nominations received this week, Amanda Hanzlik – you are our Teacher of the Week.

Thank you for changing the world, one student at a time.

Gary Langford (U.S.A.)

Gary Langford (U.S.A.)

For more than 40 years Gary Langford has dedicated his life to music and music education. He was my trumpet and jazz professor when I was a freshman at the University of Florida and through the years he has given so much to so many, in music and just by being a wonderful mentor and human. It was Gary’s honesty that convinced me to change my major from trumpet performance to journalism, and he always was straightforward and kind in his feedback and advice. I went on to have a successful 30-year career as a journalist but never stopped playing or loving the trumpet, jazz and music because of Gary’s undying enthusiasm and spirit. Ask anyone who has met him and they will say the same. Gary is an inspiration to all.

Steve Durtschi (U.S.A.)

Steve Durtschi (U.S.A.)

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.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Steve.

Thank you Kris for the nomination.

Michelle Shmuel (U.S.A.)

Michelle Shmuel (U.S.A.)

While Michelle is clearly an outstanding professional, mentor, musician and teacher, I believe she should be viewed foremost as an outstanding leader. After years of setting the standard as a “young” teacher, Michelle has now transitioned to a “seasoned veteran” who leads by example on a daily basis for not only her students but co-workers as well. Michelle’s unwavering approach to her daily tasks as an educator is a beacon of professionalism for all to see. She truly displays the philosophy that she is teaching young adults how to be better human beings through singing, as opposed to simply becoming a good musician. She runs three choirs, as well as numerous smaller chamber groups with over 200 students enrolled. It does not matter what level of performer you are, if you are willing to put the work in, she is willing to give her time to teach you. Truly inspirational!

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Michelle.

Thank you Chad for the nomination.

Emmanuella Mazile (U.S.A.)

Emmanuella Mazile (U.S.A.)

Emmanuella Mazile teaches choir at Lowell Scott Middle School. She’s only in her second year of teaching and has already made such a difference in their music program and in the lives of her students. Her kids come to class excited to learn because she engages them with respect, humor, and love. They’re not just learning songs in Miss Mazile’s class; they’re learning how to be musicians. Parents, teachers, and students alike recognize how beautifully–and quickly–she’s transformed an “easy A” choir class into a high-quality music education. Emmanuella is an incredible, natural teacher and advocate for kids who are often navigating a tumultuous period of their lives. I met Emmanuella in college while we were both studying music. I’m so immensely proud of her and thankful to call her my best friend; she’s a daily source of inspiration for me and I’m absolutely thrilled for all of the students in the years to come who will get to learn music from Miss Mazile.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Emmanuella.

Thank you Aubrey for the nomination.

Richard Medrano (U.S.A.)

Richard Medrano (U.S.A.)

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 empathy 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.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Richard.

Thank you April for the nomination.

Sheena Graham (U.S.A.)

Sheena Graham (U.S.A.)

Sheena is an outstanding choral educator, who’s breathed new life and meaning to students in Bridgeport CT’s inner city high school. After years of budget cuts, music is back: “On Friday mornings, students are serenaded by musical performances as they cue up to go through metal detectors. As people are coming in, security guards are bopping to the music as they check bags.” Sheena has just been awarded Connecticut Teacher of the Year for 2019.

Thank you, Sheena, for changing the world one student at a time.

Mrs. Ruby Robertson-Knox (U.S.A.)

Mrs. Ruby Robertson-Knox (U.S.A.)

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.

Thank you Ruby, for changing the world one student at a time.

Janwin Overstreet-Goode (U.S.A.)

Janwin Overstreet-Goode (U.S.A.)

I met Janwin at TMEA earlier this year and was blown away by the connection that she had with so many former-students across the time we spent together. It’s not a surprise that she’s been honored with the FISD “Making a Difference” Award and the Outstanding Music Educator Award from the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

Janwin – thank you for changing the world, one student at a time.

Dr. Robert Spence (U.S.A.)

Dr. Robert Spence (U.S.A.)

Dr. Spence is an associate professor of music at Elizabethtown College, as well as the director of instrumental studies. He conducts the Symphonic Band and the College-Community Orchestra. In 2017, he was awarded the Kreider Teaching Prize, which is given annually to an outstanding educator at the college. I had Dr. Spence in class during every semester of my college career. He is the prime example of a deeply caring and passionate educator. During his classes, his manner of speaking creates the feeling that he is speaking to each student individually, rather than addressing the group as a whole. He can often be found in his office, essentially giving private lessons to students from his instrumental methods classes. And to top it off, his dry humor is unmatched. Perhaps my favorite memory is his recent comment on my Facebook post, informing friends and family that I accepted a full-time teaching job: “Thank you for your contributions to my future Social Security checks…”

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Robert.

Thank you Abby for the nomination.

Sandra Chandler (U.S.A.)

Sandra Chandler (U.S.A.)

I would love to recommend Ms. Sandra Chandler, choral teacher and director at Alexander High School, Douglasville, Georgia for this honor. She is a splendid teacher, award winning in her district, and greatly loved by her students. She is a prime example of what ACDA stands for.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Sandra.

Thank you Tim Sharp, Executive Director of ACDA, for the nomination.

Dr. Charissa Chiaravalloti (U.S.A.)

Dr. Charissa Chiaravalloti (U.S.A.)

Dr. Chiaravalloti is the Director of Choral Activities at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Dr. C, as we call her, is one of those teachers that changes your life. She’s the standard by which you hold all other teachers, even though you know you’re never going to have a director quite like her again. She loves and cherishes music, but she loves and values her students even more. Dr. C supports each and every one of her students, and helps us to grow not only as musicians, but as confident, competent human beings. No teacher has ever changed my life quite the way Dr. C has.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Charissa.

Thank you Allie for the nomination.

Gregg Breinberg (U.S.A.)

Gregg Breinberg (U.S.A.)

It was my honor to meet and work with Gregg Breinberg “Mr. B” and the incredible choir, PS22, (from Public School 22, Graniteville, Staten Island, New York) in 2000. Their continued success must surely come from Gregg’s vision, integrity, passion and dedication to young people and music. Each year he auditions children from 10 years old to join PS22 from the school’s wide cross-section of ethnic groups and socio-economic levels, encouraging them to sing as one and express themselves through music. The emotion is palpable, both listening to them and watching them. Mr. B and PS22 have had truly massive success on YouTube, appeared at the Oscars, the White House, on the Oprah Winfrey Show and with Katy Perry and more. Crucially, this team of engaging super-talented young people rehearse twice a week in term-time and sing at school and local events. Mr. B, you are an incredible force for good in an area that continues to face huge challenges.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Gregg.

George Hattingh Jr (South Africa)

George Hattingh Jr (South Africa)

George Hattingh Jr has been a big part in making the dreams of thousands of aspiring sound engineers, including myself, come to life. He is a lecturer and a director at the Academy of Sound Engineering in Auckland Park, South Africa. He is a mentor to me and one of my biggest role models.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you George.

Thank you Ethan for the nomination.

Mr. Chris Wing (U.S.A.)

Mr. Chris Wing (U.S.A.)

As the band director and head of the music department at Greenfield-Central High School, Mr. Wing built a phenomenal marching band and a spectacular concert band program from the ground up. Starting with a horn line that totaled fewer members than the current woodwind section, he pushed through adversity, giving every member the knowledge they needed to thrive, and continues to strive, not for trophies or medals, but for improvement and exceptional performance individually and as a group. He will be the first to admit that if there are points available, he wants them all. However, his desire for the Greenfield-Central Cougar Pride Marching Band to be the best it possibly can overrides his competitive nature, and he implores us to focus on how we improved over how we placed.

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Chris.

Thank you Elysabeth for the nomination.

Dr. Angela Broeker (U.S.A.)

Dr. Angela Broeker (U.S.A.)

Dr. Broeker is the most loving and generous human being and an incredible Choral music educator. She teaches with such kindness, empathy and grace and is an inspiration to all of the students she comes into contact with. After two weeks of graduate conducting this summer, she gently reminded our class “You are enough. As you already are, you are enough.” Her belief in each of her students is so encouraging…and she is a brilliant musician to boot!

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Angela.

Thank you Coleen for the nomination.

Dr. Cara Tasher (U.S.A.)

Dr. Cara Tasher (U.S.A.)

Dr. Cara Tasher, the brilliant Director of Choral Studies at the University of North Florida, has a tradition with her choir called “hot seat.” (That’s Dr. Tasher in the photo, second from left). She and her singers sit in a large circle surrounding a single empty chair. One by one a student comes to the center of the circle, sits down, and closes their eyes. As soon as they sit the people surrounding them gently bombard them with positive adjectives about their character. “Funny.” “Gracious.” “Generous.” “Confident.” “Beautiful.”

The person in the center can’t go anywhere – they must sit and listen to their friends and colleagues sending wave after wave of positive, specific reinforcement describing who they are and what they mean to the tribe. The overall effect was gorgeous, uplifting and deeply human, and as I tearfully told them afterwards in the middle of a big group hug, “This is the most choir thing EVER.”

Changing the world one student at a time – thank you Cara.