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.
Dr. Hillman is the director of the Men’s and College Choirs at Gordon College. He’s an amazing educator with a real heart for his students. His commitment to programming diverse works opened my eyes and the eyes of many other students to what the world has to offer for choral literature. He’s personable around campus, and frequently is seen talking to and checking up on his students when it looks like they’re having a bad day. In addition to his efforts at Gordon, he is on faculty at Boston University, where he has dedicated the past 8 years to teaching music education and appreciation to incarcerated men in the greater Boston area prison system. His commitment to the lost, the last, and the least among us truly makes him an incredible educator!
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.
Professor Kartman is the Cello Professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and is one of the finest in his field. He does whatever it takes in order for his students to grow and achieve what it is they desire. He puts in countless hours and so dedicates so much of his spare time to his students and gives them everything he can. He teaches us valuable life skills and life lessons while teaching us artistry and musicianship. He is a selfless teacher and Is able to teach students to perfect their craft as well as mold them into true artists. He evokes joy and nothing but a positive atmosphere for his studio.
Mrs. Stovall has always been caring for all of her students. She has created a classroom where every individual who walks through the door can feel accepted by her and the students that she teaches. Before our first concert this year, she told us that, our theme for this year, is “Be Kind.” Ever since my ninth grade year, she has taught me to have passion for every single song that I come in contact with, because every piece has a special importance to it. She has told us while singing a song, to, “Sing it to death.”, meaning, to put all of our passion, and our power, to every single word in the piece. We would not be able to achieve that, without her. She is compassionate, caring, honest, kind, wise, and admirable. I would like to say, on the behalf of everyone that you have taught, who you are teaching, and those of which you will teach, thank you so much for all you do.
Mrs. Stovall is the choral teacher at Gray’s Creek High School in North Carolina. She touches each and every one of the students who passed through her door. She not only teaches us how to sing but also teaches us about the impact each song should have on the audience. She offers a safe space for students to grow and gain a family inside the school and out. I aspire to one day be as talented as Mrs. Stovall. She has led so many students to become not only great musicians but great people. She truly deserves this!!!
Levi has taken our HS choir from being on its knees to something more than amazing! He has taught our kids and continues to teach them the power of not only their voice but their worth as a human! He has a heart not of gold but of diamond! I’m proud that the students of Alvin HS get to learn from him and have a mentor as amazing as he!
Mr. Duncan is an amazing choir director. He gets involved with the students and makes his classroom a safe place for us to be ourselves. Mr. Duncan stays after school everyday to help his students. He encourages us to be our best.
He’s an amazing choir director and is really passionate about making Alvin choir the best it could ever be. He cares about our feelings and our mental stability he treats us as family and goes above and beyond to provide us with and amazing high school experience.
Mr. Duncan is such a great teacher. He brought our choir program up SOOO much from the beginning of the year to now. He’s helped us become better musically and as students and better people in general. He’s always there for us with what ever we need. We’ve helped him get used to a new school and all new kids. I nominate Levi Duncan because he truly deserves this honor.
A good teacher catalyzes learning, but a great teacher inspires passion. Levi stays after school with students every day, pushing them beyond the limits they’ve created for themselves. Levi also started a community choir, the Southeast Texas Vocal Artists to provide a safe place for musicians from all walks of life to come together and perform. Levi’s passion for his students goes far beyond the classroom, and far beyond the music realm. When hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas, I was a freshman in college with no way to return home due to the freeways being shut down. My mother sent me pictures of the volunteers demolishing our home, all ravaged by five feet of water. Amongst those volunteers was Levi Duncan. I was no longer his student, but he was in my home- dust mask and dirty clothes- helping us rebuild. 1000 characters is not enough to go into all he has done for same, but I know I speak for the entire community when I say Levi has made a tremendous impact on us all.
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.