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.
Mr. Craig Luft
Mr. Luft is a small town band director for the middle and high school bands. He cares about more than just the music and the sound we make, he cares about all of us students with his whole heart! He deserves the world and would do anything for any of us. Mr. Luft stays after school and talks to students that need to get something off their chest, or needs to figure out that one part that they can’t quite get yet. He brought the music program back to life in Corunna, and we are more than thankful for all that he does for us.
2018 Kentucky Teacher of The Year winner, Mrs. (upcoming Dr.) Kellie Clark is the choral director at Randall K. Cooper Highschool. Her engaging teaching methods and passion for spreading the joy of music among her students led her to being Kentucky’s TOTY and invited to teach at the University of Kentucky. Rarely is there a rehearsal without Mrs. Clark bouncing to the rhythm of the music or swaying to the lines of our sounds. Mrs. Clark’s constant push for excellence results in a district recognized choral program with students who WANT to make music!
My teacher, Mr. Klein is a loving and caring teacher who does nothing less than impress the entire choir ever single day. He gives us all joy and happiness and never fails to make sure we have our heads on straight. He is intelligent, hard working, and most of all genuine. He never lets you walk into the choir room doors without a good morning and a wink!
Mr. Orofino is an amazing vocalist as well as an amazing person. Every morning he comes into Chamber Choir with a smile on his face and eagerness to not only teach us how to sing and become better people, but also to learn more himself. He is a brilliant person that absolutely loves what he does, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He is always ALWAYS willing to help a student when they’re less than 100%, even if that’s not him all the time. He has been such an inspiring mentor to me for the years that I’ve known and worked with him, and he’s inspired me to pursue music in college. He has taught me how to be better at what I love to do, sing. Not only does he direct three different choirs, but he also is the vocal director for our school’s musicals, and he sings in his own choir (CAE Portland). He works so hard every day, and every day he is a better person and educator because of that. I am very thankful for everything that he had taught me about music and myself so far.