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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.


Your Nominations

Dr. Stephen C. Bolster

With his retirement eminent, I am reminded of what a amazing and beautiful person and teacher Dr. Bolster is. Like many college professors, he is well versed and in his craft and profession, both as a choral director and voice teacher, particularly in his knowledge of repertoire and talent for programming, but what makes him outstanding in my mind is the depth and breadth of his sheer passion for choral music and singing. His willingness to share his intense emotional and physical responses to music making are both heartwarming and inspiring, & his love for his students and the music seems unending.

Lara Reem

Lara Reem is the kindest, most outgoing, and dedicated teacher I have ever gotten the chance to learn from. Every day she makes it a goal to encourage her students and helps make the most out of their rehearsal time. Lara Reem is more than a teacher, she is a mentor, a therapist, and a great friend. She will help lead the band when the director is gone, she takes time to listen when her students have an individual problem, and brightens the mood of the whole class every day. Mrs. Reem shares all ends of her knowledge of choral music, and after 25+ years of teaching, she decides to further her education by taking classes while teaching. I am a former student of Lara Reem. I have decided to not continue choir for other reasons, yet her wit, determination, and kindness inspires me all the time.

Joel Duarte

Mr. Duarte is such an amazing choir director. When he conducts the choir, he brings in a sense of magic into the music. Not only is he talented at music, but he is a father figure to the choir. He comes with us to camps and workshops, he comes and supports us at our outside events we have that are outside of school choir, and most of all, he talks to us whenever something is wrong in our lives. He is always there to tell us that it’s going to be okay and to keep thinking on the positive side of everything.

Mackenzie Malone

Ms. Malone is our new assistant choir director at CPHS (working with Lisa Holt)! She is so caring and works really hard for us and the choir program. She’s already connected with us and she has an extensive understanding to connect through music and teaches us to do the same. In addition to helping us prepare for TMEA, she is also teaching the first AP Music Theory class at our school!

Lisa S. Holt

Lisa Holt has worked so hard for our choir program. She’s brought us closer together and created such beautiful music. She even got us the status of an honor choir at TMEA! She has been running our wonderful choir program with no assistant director for four years and made a huge success out of it. She works so hard for our success and puts so much of her time and effort into the choir program.

Sutton M. Morgan

Sutton Morgan has been a JR. High Art Teacher in Utah for over 20 years. She has tirelessly advocated for the importance of art and meaning in public education in a state that struggles to recognize that public education is important to any informed society. Students turn to Sutton as she fosters an environment in her art room that welcomes diversity and individual identity, while grounded in accountability, so students who struggle to fit into structured systems like public school turn to her. Sutton plans curriculum around learning goals and skills rather than on predetermined tasks, so there is room for students to introduce their own creativity into learning. This year, Sutton’s school is under construction. She has invested countless personal hours of time and effort to keep her classroom welcoming to individuality and creativity. Sutton exemplifies what it means to be a public school teacher. Transparency: Sutton is my wife. But that is not why I nominate her.

Andrew Chiciak

I was in 7th grade and my band director, Andrew Chiciak, lamented he didn’t have any Caribbean music for the band to play for the school’s themed Spirit Week. Somehow we got to talking, and he led me through writing my first band arrangement at age 12. Hearing my peers play the notes I put on the page lit a spark in me, and I went on to write hundreds of band and choral arrangements and compositions during my high school years, and without that spark, I wouldn’t be a professional film and television composer and arranger today. Thanks, Mr. Chiciak.

Cami Clausen

Mrs. Clausen is the kindest most dedicated teacher anyone could ask for. When it comes to music she knows how to be patient, and kind when teaching. Along with the clever puns and light hearted music jokes, she always makes sure every single person knows not only how to read music and understand but also, how to perform. Lastly, she is the kindest human-being when you walk into her choir room she is always smiling with a bright smile and is willing to help anyone who needs it, she takes time out of her day to get to know every student and is willing to help them however she can. She is the most amazing teacher anyone could ask for she’s wise, selfless, and kind to everyone she meets and truly does make her program feel like a family. She is also so talented in a way to make everyone strive for greatness and has built such an amazing program which, is a safe place in our high school. I am so proud to be under her direction and I would not want to learn from any other Choral Director

Lauren Murphy

I’m nominating Lauren because in her comparably short five years of teaching, she’s become a true asset to our public middle school. She’s inserted herself on various committees to give voice to both traditional and non-traditional learners from the viewpoint of a creative arts educator. She’s also on our state general music board. She routinely goes above and beyond for our students – creating a safe space supported by admin for students to eat their lunch and decompress. It’s apparent in our school that not only is Lauren a rising top notch educator employing new and innovative ideas in the music classroom and choral rehearsal, but she values the voice of our students outside the music classroom. She’s a tireless advocate for the students, their music education and the profession.

Kim Ritzer

Mrs. Ritzer has been a dedicated musician from the time she started playing piano at 4 years old. As she grew she quickly realized that becoming a choir director was one of her passions in life. When she graduated high school she attended UNLV to study Secondary Music Education. When she graduated college she taught one year of middle school and moved up to high school at Green Valley High School when it opened in 1991. She has been at Green Valley HS for 28 years. Everyday Mrs. Ritzer instills a love for music, kindness, acceptance, and passion in her students. Although she has had many accolades, like 4 ACDA performances, singing with the Rolling Stones, and earning superior ratings wherever her choirs travel; she is the most humble and down to earth person you will meet. She has touched so many students and colleges lives. We want to thank her for bringing so much love and music into our lives.

Dr. J. Robert Spence

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…”

Marsha Core

Ms. Core has been teaching choir at Haverford High School in Havertown, PA for over 30 years. Ms. Core’s conducting is honest and her teaching is the perfect mix of challenging and encouraging. Students know and appreciate the hours upon hours she devotes to making the choral program strong. She continues to inspire students to continue their music education and even become music educators themselves. Ms. Core is incredible at her job, and I can’t imagine a more deserving teacher for this honor.

Shawn Humphries

Mr. Humphries has taught me the true meaning of discipline, leadership, and teamwork, whether that be in band or outside of the classroom. Through his excellent teaching and mentorship skills, he has been able to develope and change the lives of many of the students who have come through the band program. He’s always caring and fair in his ways of teaching, works to reveal the potential in his students, and strives for the betterment of them.

Miss. Kristen Diehl

Miss. Diehl is a teacher who is willing to go to extreme lengths to help her students become the musicians they want to be. Miss. Diehl was one of my biggest inspirations into becoming a music educator myself. My senior year in High School, she created an entirely new music theory class for me because I had completed everything that my High School had to offer, and wanted to push myself to the next level. She personally works to help each child grow. She works individually with each child to make sure that they reach the level of musicianship that they want to reach. Miss. Diehl was a huge impact on me, and is the reason that I became the musician that I am today.

Amy Neuner

Ms.Neuner is doing the impossible-Making high school enjoyable! Through all the drama, stress and hardship that high school brings, there is always her chorus class to look forward to. Ms.Neuner is willing to work with students at all skill levels and prioritizes effort over natural talent. The chorus room is a safe environment for all! Ms.Neuner is kind, talented, knowledgeable, encouraging, and goes above and beyond for her student and for that, deserves this nomination.

Joshua Markham

Mr. Markham is one of those teachers that you are excited to see every day in school and are sad to leave after you graduate. He is unbelievably talented in so many different ways, and he is the best musician I know. He’s not just a teacher to his students, but also a friend to many. Mr. Markham has a passion for music and his students, and that passion leaves a lasting impact on anyone who goes through his chorus program.

Anne Tomlinson

Anne Tomlinson is the artistic director emeritus of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, and in her time as the artistic director, she changed the lives of hundreds of children who had the joy of being in one of her ensembles. As an aspiring music educator and choral composer myself, I can say with full confidence that without her guidance, I wouldn’t have ended up pursuing music at all. So many of us who studied under her owe it to her for showing us the power of singing together to cross borders, language barriers, and ideological differences. I can think of no more important figure in my life as a musician, and even after graduating from LACC, I still find myself looking back on her rehearsals and learning something new every day. Thank you, Mrs. T.

Dr. Charissa Chiaravalloti

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.

Dr. Michael Martin

Dr. Michael Martin is the Director of Choral Activites at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is the conductor of our women’s chorus, men’s chorus, Chamber Singers, orchestra, and our Chorale. He is also the professor over music education and fine arts management. His office is always open to any student and it is full of snacks, drinks, and coffee to help us get through the day. In his ensembles, he urges us to leave our baggage/ challenges in life at the door so that when we sing together all problems fade away. For at least the time we are together, music making is the only priority. Our touring group, the Chorale, is made up of mostly nonmusic majors who have had no formal training in music. He has molded our Chorale into a fabulous choir that has recently performed at Carnegie Hall and many basilicas in Italy including the Vatican. Dr. Martin provides many workshops around the state of NC for middle and high school students and their teachers.

Mr. Michael Short

For 30 plus years Mr. Short has been the choir director at Orange High School in O.C., Ca. He is also a church choir director, and director of the Orange Community Master Chorale – started when his high school graduates expressed an interest in continuing to sing with him. He instituted our annual Christmas Tree Lighting that features a 300-voice chorus and also a musical program at our annual ‘3rd of July’ celebration. He makes sure that his singers have opportunities to travel, taking them on East Coast tours, and to cathedrals and churches all over Europe. Having had two sons go through his program, I know for a fact that he is completely invested in every one of his students, and wants the very best for them.

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Nominate a Teacher

There are thousands of incredible educators out and there and I invite you to submit your nominations. Who you nominate is your choice – it could be anyone from your kindergarten teacher to your college professors.

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