Mr. Shabestari has been an absolute rock through the coronavirus pandemic. He has never failed to give everything to his students, and where other teachers would have failed or given up, Mr. Shabestari has prevailed and thrived as a teacher. Mr. Shabestari’s classes have truly been one of the only safe places for his students this year. Amid a global pandemic, racial injustice, political frustration, and so many other challenges; Mr. Shabestari never wavered in giving his students a safe music making environment. He has been an inspiration to all of us, and we are forever in his debt for his dedication and kindness.
Mr. Shabestari, or Shabs, or Shabby, or some other name I can’t think of right now is an incredible director at Alta High School, not only because he’s fun and energetic, but because he genuinely cares and understands his students, heck even some students who go to other schools, but come together for the family that is Alta Marching Band. Shabs makes sure that his Marching Band is one of belonging, everyone cares so deeply for each other and we all strive to lift each other up. Shabs encouraged me to try marching a baritone, and honestly I was a little bit scared, I had only played trombone my entire musical career, so I was nervous that I wouldn’t be any good at it, and that i’d mess up, but he told me that mistakes are everywhere, sure, but learning from your mistakes, that’s the key. Honestly, my life simply wouldn’t be where it is right now without Shabs, and his excellent teaching.
She has been working so hard especially the last year to make choir an enjoyable experience!
Hannah is a remarkably talented vocalist who chose to serve middle school students with her gifts and talents. I went to university with her (we lived on the same hall in our freshman year dorm together and instantly clicked!) and it is evident she goes above and beyond what is required of her. She loves teaching her students choral masterpieces and helping them discover their joy and delight in the class. She has shown such dedication to the students via Zoom and (safely) in person throughout this entire pandemic. Though Hannah has never been my teacher, I know she is a remarkable one, seeing how involved she is with her students when we catch up from time to time. She is truly passionate for what she does, no matter how hard it gets. She has never given up on her students.
Amir Bahador SG
not only he is doing his best to educate us in belle canto with all its difficulties, but also he is such a kind caring friend with a golden heart who helps us in any situation. God speed you sir.
Mrs. Ball is a kind and caring teacher who provides students a unique and fun perspective on music of all genres. She has had to be creative in teaching music online, from call and response singing, to creating fun and interactive music history and theory activities for her students. She always encourages her students to create, participate, and appreciate music in all forms.
Dr. Mark Taylor
His dedication to his students.
Dr.Taylor is one of the most passionate, caring, and honest men I know both in and out of the classroom. I could not be more proud to know him!
Mark is a high school orchestra teacher at Centreville High School, Centreville, VA. One of the first inspiring projects in his totally virtual teaching this year was called the Gratitude Project. His orchestra students had to think about people they were especially grateful for during this pandemic. Then they individually thanked teachers, custodians, first responders, nurses, grocery workers, etc. online, and, in virtual ensembles, played special music just for them, to show their appreciation.
I am a senior in high school and I can very confidently say that in my 13+ years of schooling, I have never met a better teacher than Mrs. Clausen. She is an amazing director and musician and above that, she is one of the best people I know. It’s not just that she’s a great teacher, she’s a great friend. She always goes out of her way to make sure that her students know they are loved and cared for and it makes choir such a safe environment. I would without a doubt be no where near the person I am today without her. She has only impacted my life positively and I am so thankful for the influence and guidance she has given me inside and outside of the classroom. I have grown immensely as a musician and as a person all thanks to her. Casteel High School is incredibly lucky to have her.
Camilyn Clausen, my choir director of 5 years, has continued to be an inspiration to me and all of her students. She has fought tirelessly throughout this pandemic to make our year as normal and safe as possible. She continually sacrifices her time with her own family to make our experience in choir better. Her approach to choir as “community first and music second” as a result has made our group incredibly strong musically because we all feel connected and we WANT to make good music. She believes in her students and as a result we want to meet her high expectations. We have so many talented individuals within the choir program that SHE has fostered. She has given so many kids the opportunity to heal through music which is what choir is all about. There are not enough good things I can say about Mrs. Clausen. She truly embodies everything that makes a teacher great! I admire her greatly and hope to exemplify half of her amazing qualities as a teach one day!
This year has obviously been far from ideal for teachers in general, however performing arts teachers have been met with almost an impossible challenge. How do you maintain the same fun and caring environment, while creating beautiful music within the constraints of not being able to be within 6 feet of each other. Mrs Clausen has worked a great deal to make sure that we are doing the most we can with what we’ve been given. Throughout virtual learning and in person learning, she has been resilient in her efforts to keep us safe, not only physically, but mentally as well, taking days to stop what we are doing and check in on one another. Because of her efforts, we have been able to have a safe choir concert that allowed us to experience what I never thought we would have again. Being a senior in high school, she has done more for me than I could have ever asked for.
she is the most caring choir director i have ever had. she treats her students as her own children and she cares for them just as much. she always says that our choir family comes first and the music comes second. because of our unity as a choir, we are able to create such beautiful music. she is the most amazing teacher and she has made such a difference in each and every one of her students lives.
Mrs. Clausen is a blessing. As a Senior, this year has been incredibly difficult. But she has fought for us tooth and nail, giving us a wonderful year, and keeping us safe too! With mental health days, and social distanced concerts, and choir parties, and unconditional love, she has made this year one to remember, in the best way possible. I love you!!
Andi is living her dream come true as she began her first year teaching this year, in her 50s, during the pandemic. She is an elementary art school teacher to a very diverse and vibrant population in small town Iowa. Her Martin Luther King, Jr. Day art projects showing all the beautiful skin tones present in our school taught kids pride in their heritage and being confident in their own skin. Andi brings joy to each class as she teaches art and fosters a creative spirit in children from special education classrooms to kindergarten to 4th grade. She’s made a tough year for students and teachers easier with the joy of art and her continual sunny disposition!
Ms. Green has always inspired the students at my high school. From always giving each and everyone of us a smile, to all of us sharing a laugh together virtually through Zoom. Green has always given her students the most during this pandemic which has affected all of us in different ways. While it is difficult to sing together and stay connected, Green has made it possible to connect with everyone through these different and difficult times. Many people have been struggling completing assignments for classes, and even showing up to class; however it was always a joy joining choir! It didn’t feel like a task or mandatory. Green made it feel like a place to learn music and have fun learning it. I’d like to mention that even through these challenging times, Green has still taught us about good singing techniques to enhance our own voices, as well as how to improve our sight reading. From giving us the opportunity to meet Jacob Narverud and Laura Thoreson virtually, it has been a blast!
Mrs Spivey is the 4 & 5th grade Science teacher at Bethel Elementary. She works tirelessly to bring interesting and interactive lessons to her students. Since the pandemic it has become increasingly hard to connect with students and keep them interested. Mrs. Spivey is making it work! Her students love her and her colleagues respect and seek her out for advise and wisdom. Great Job! Mrs. Spivey, you make us proud♥️
Dr Mikhail (Misha) Shtangrud
Dr Misha Shtangrud is the Artistic Director of MUSYCA Children’s Choir and Director of Vocal Ensembles at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, but I am nominating him because of my experience with him in his role as Artistic Director of the Burbank Chorale. Misha is an enthusiast, warm, kind, energetic and inspiring teacher. At the Burbank Chorale, he has a wide range of talent levels to work with, and he is appreciative and encouraging to all. Recently, Misha conducts virtual choir rehearsals through Zoom. He is a one man show! He sings all of the parts, is colorful and dramatic and engaging as he teaches the parts and the pronunciation of different languages. He encourages the singers as if he can actually hear them. He personally transforms our sometimes not so elegant submissions into virtual choir presentations that we our proud to share with friends and family. I am so grateful for the work he and others are doing to keep the Burbank Chorale alive.
His district was the only one nearby that wouldn’t allow middle school band or choir to happen in person, even though the two other close districts were ok with it. On Feb 1st, he was able to have his first band class, with a room divided by sheet plastic and a framework to keep the cohorts and himself separate. He persevered through the first 5 months of school teaching a middle school general music exploratory and covering spare blocks for other teachers with the hopes of restarting his band/choir classes. Towards the end of this week, the province of BC made new, stricter guidelines and he may lose the ability to have his classes after only 4 days…..
Ms. Whiteoak, the choir director at Airport High School, MI, has been my choir director for almost 5 years now, and she is one of my biggest inspirations. She has helped me to become a better singer, and she has always been there for me when times were tough. I am planning on majoring in music education, and a lot of the reason for that is that she has inspired me to do so. Ms. Whiteoak has always been such a fun, caring, and passionate person. She makes choir a safe space for everyone in it, and is always available to talk to. It is clear that she loves both her students and music greatly. I don’t think there is anyone in our choirs that doesn’t like her; she’s just that friendly and sociable. Personally, she has always believed in me and my dreams. I strive to be like her someday when I am teaching, and I know I won’t ever forget her influence on me!
Heather Ann Krasner
Heather works tirelessly to deliver fun, engaging and informative lessons for her K-6 general music students in Amherst, MA, USA. Teaching on Zoom is a challenge yet Heather is warm, funny and energetic. Besides planning meaningful content for her students, she received grants so each of her students has a xylophone at home and Heather also helps assemble weekly book bags in addition to her music duties. Heather serves as an ally-leader in her school’s work on social justice, serving as a peer mentor for colleagues who engage in weekly dialogues and professional goal setting. She is truly a leader in all capacities and her students are so lucky to have her!
His choir was the only reason I bothered going to high school. He was patient, fun, kind, and extremely funny – he told us hilarious stories from years back that would make me laugh till I cried! He treated everyone equally, regardless of how their voice sounded. He pushed us, encouraged us, led us and helped each of us. He wasnt just a teacher – he was a friend. A good, genuine, wonderful friend.
Mrs. Hurley is my choir director at Franklin County High School. It would be an understatement to say she has had a major impact on my life, as well as other students’ lives. She has created a welcoming, safe environment for students from every walk of life. She is resilient, passionate, and is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. She will laugh with you, cry with you, be angry with you…whatever you need, she will always be there; even outside of school, she will check up on you. She goes out of her way to make sure her students feel loved and encouraged. She makes music come alive in ways I, personally, never thought to be possible. She considers and examines every lyric, but allows her students to interpret the music however they would like. It’s safe to say that Mrs. Hurley is my biggest inspiration. She has inspired me to take on music education myself, as I wish to have the same impact on my future students as she has on hers.
Mr. Marteney, the choir director for the Heath district in Ohio, goes above and beyond for his students with his cheerful and hard-working method of teaching. He encourages his students to perform to the best of their abilities. Classes are filled with an environment every teacher wants — hard work with an atmosphere full of laughter and community. He also promotes an open and caring environment between the choirs, often with exercises that focus on working together to solve problems — such as crossing a “river” without leaving anyone behind. The emphasis on community is felt, seen, and heard by everyone that witnesses it. When you walk by Mr. Marteney’s classroom, you hear joy in the laughter of his students and in the incredible range of music that they perform. His motto of “One Voice” spreads beyond the closed doors of the choir room and stays with every student that works with him.
Dr. Matthew Fritz
Dr. Fritz has been my favorite professor at Elizabethtown College since I started here as a freshman. He has always created and fun, safe space for his students and shared his love of music with us. I have always said concert choir is the best part of my week and many of my classmates agree. Dr. Fritz has a heart of gold and is an incredible educator and over all an amazing human being. I think he deserves to be acknowledged for all he has done for his students!
Mrs. Leah Purdy
Mrs. Leah Purdy, the choir and musical theatre director at North Platte High School in North Platte, Nebraska, has been a true beacon of hope throughout this pandemic. She made it known to her students that when our 2020 musical, “West Side Story,” was shut down the day before opening night that our work was not for nothing and that we would be able to get through this together. During the shutdown, she would send us emails every day with words of encouragement to keep us connected. She became creative in adjusting to rehearsal guidelines in choir classes when school began again in August of 2020 to make sure we could continue making music together, and our choirs have become stronger musicians because of her methods. Mrs. Purdy has most importantly taught us that no matter what happens in our lives, we will be connected and have someone to love us through our music community. Thank you for never giving up on us, even when it seemed impossible to keep going, Mrs. Purdy.
She is the most important teacher ive had in my life, and one of the most important person as well. Shes changed my love for music and has given me all the tools and more to be a beautiful successful creator.