Meet Our 2016 Music Educator of the Year Semi-Finalists

2016 Music Educator of the Year Award

Sometimes we forget just how much work music educators across the country put in to keep music programs alive. But, it’s programs like our annual Music Educator of the Year award that quickly remind us of the amazing impact educators have on students and their communities.

We received applications from all across the country for the Music Educator of the Year award and were left inspired by many of the recommendation letters and resumes we read. But, of all of the applications we received, only 25 music educators rose to the top of our list. Winners will be announced at Music & Arts’ Annual Midwest Reception on December 15th in Chicago, and you’re invited! To register for the reception, click here.

Congratulations to our 2016 Music & Arts Music Educator of the Year semi-finalists: 

Alexander Scott


Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Catonsville, MD

# of years teaching: 5

 “He balances band, orchestra, and three guitar classes during the school day along with marching band, steel drum band, and jazz band. Not only does he try to push his students to do more after school ensembles, but to also do the county and state level ensembles. He wants his students to be as good of musicians as he knows they can be.


Amy Delorge


Music & Arts 2016 Music Educator of the Year Interview with Amy Delorge
Music & Arts 2016 Music Educator of the Year Interview with Amy Delorge

Biddeford MS, Biddeford, ME

# of years teaching: 24

“In 1992 when I began my career as a music educator my goals were idealistic/lofty and my dreams focused on being worthy of performances at major music education conferences.  Working in communities where 15% of the population are below the poverty level and the per capita income is $18,200 I have instead come to believe that what is far more worthwhile is building relationships with students, parents, colleagues and community members through the vehicle of music education.”

Andrew Hordichok

andrew-hordichokTaft HS, Gleneden Beach, OR

# of years teaching: 12

“Andy was hired into a music program that offered limited numbers of students their first opportunity to learn music in a 7th grade band elective. He began advocating for a radically different program in which students would begin learning music fundamentals in Kindergarten through 6th grade – then ALL students would learn to play an instrument.”


Angela Stefanini

angela-stefaniniCharlotte Preparatory School, Charlotte, NC

# of years teaching: 20

“I created a parent-teacher band at our school (“Parental Guidance Suggested”), uniting parents who once played instruments in their youth, and who wished to re-learn their instrument. They’ve gotten so good they perform at school-sponsored events and fundraisers! Music is forever part of our existence and I love that our students have the opportunity to see their parents still playing their instruments as a hobby even though they still have non-musical day jobs.”

Braeden Kershner

braeden-kershnerBlack Tie Music Academy, Summerville, SC

# of years teaching: 15

“You know well, music is a miracle. Seemingly a collection of sounds, it has the unbelievable power to move the soul; it can soften a heart or transform a life. It challenges us, inspires us, and encourages us. Music can seem unimpressive on paper, but when it comes into our life, it is capable of miracles. This is music, and this is also Braeden Kershner.”


Brian Querry

brian-querryBurrell School District, North Apollo, PA

# of years teaching: 18

“His initiative and drive to find funding for technology has enabled multiple improvement s over the years that would have not been possible otherwise. Additionally, Mr. Querry has worked closely with the Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh to improve our arts education programs.”


Christine Cumberledge

christine-cumberledgeCentral Junior HS, Hurst, TX

# of years teaching: 20

“Using the firm foundations of technique and musicality that Mrs. Cumberledge provides, her students and former students excel at every level of competition and are regularly among top students in all-district, all-region, and all-state bands. More importantly, however, they are taught to love what they are doing and to work toward their own goals in whatever field they may pursue. They learn this love and drive from watching Mrs. Cumberledge’s example. She gives her students everything that she has. I have seen her sacrifice her time and energy for her students on a daily basis, and know that she has even spent her own money to help families purchase instruments for their children.”

 Dan Trahey

dan-trahey-1Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Orch Kids, Baltimore, MD

# of years teaching: 12

“The lessons I have learned while under his tutelage have prepared me to face real-world challenges. I can always count on Dan to be honest with me as a teacher and a friend. From the very beginning, he’s helped me receive more scholarship and grants from the university.  Outside of school, he’s funded many of my trips to perform and teach around the country. Dan’s been able to motivate me to continue pursuing my dreams despite all of the hardships. I consider Dan as a life coach that happens to be a great educator.”

Dana Lamb

dana-lambFlat Rock MS, Fayetteville, GA

# of years teaching: 27

 “I was instantly impressed with Ms. Lamb-Schaubroeck’s depth of knowledge in music, and her excitement for sharing her passion with her students. She immediately took the music curriculum and raised the expectations for everyone around her. It was not enough to just teach the music standards, but to have the students experience the joy of music in their lives.”


Daniel Zeigner


Faith Lutheran MS and HS, Las Vegas, NV

# of years teaching: 16

 “A strong music program is necessary for a healthy school culture. It provides a soul, energy, and pride to a campus that can’t be found any other way. If done well, music programs also give a large number of students a community, a needed home. Dan has almost single-handily provided all of this for our students. He does this all with a contagious energy and fervent dedication that has been adopted by his students. They just love him!“

 David Puckett

P_27Indian Springs MS, Keller, TX

# of years teaching: 19

“If you observed Mr. Puckett’s classroom, you would witness a professional, engaging educator, connecting to his students with ease. David teaches acting musical concepts to his students that many do not encounter until college, however he makes it tangible and relevant to them. Students love coming to band. They are appropriately challenged, while also being positively loved and encouraged. The Indian Springs Middle School Band creates amazing musicians and more importantly, hardworking, creative innovators.”

Diane Bacon

diane-baconMary Munford Elementary, Richmond, VA

# of years teaching: 40

“It has been 23 years since I was her student! I am a teacher because of the impact she had on my life. I become elated when observing that she still has the same energy and dedication for her current students as she did with me and others.”

 Dustin O’Neil

dustin-oneilWedgewood MS, Columbus, OH

# of years teaching: 21

 “Throughout his 21 years of teaching, he has touched the lives of hundreds of students encouraging them to pursue music at the next level.  His energy and love for teaching is contagious and it is apparent everyday as he begins and ends his day with a smile.”

Edward Downs

edward-downsCamden Academy Charter HS, Camden, NJ

# of years teaching: 27

“You may be aware that Camden, New Jersey has been named as America’s Most Dangerous City several years in a row now. The priority of many of the residents is just to stay safe so I am always impressed when I see these kids playing instruments and performing songs they would never be exposed to otherwise.  And they are good!”


Erin Stroup

erin-stroup-1Lower Moreland Township School District, Huntingdon, PA

# of years teaching: 15

“There is no doubt the impact you had on me was not larger than life. Even to this day, I still look back to the nostalgic feeling of being in the band room. The atmosphere was just uplifting because the open arms you would extend to the outcasts of society (us musicians) just made the entire music body feel like family.”

 George Hattendorf

george-hattendorfMountain Ridge HS, Glendale, AZ

# of years teaching: 44

“In my 36 years as a professional musician and music educator I have never seen anyone with the raw passion and love for teaching and encouraging his students to succeed than George Hattendorf. Educators such as he are rare indeed.


Gloria Ramirez

gloria-ramirezLangham Creek HS, Houston, TX

# of years teaching: 35

“Sometimes all that it takes is someone to believe in your dream. And sometimes I don’t believe in it myself, but I remember ‘I have to do it because Ms. Ramirez said I could!’ And that push of motivation is sometimes just enough.”


Jeff Phillips

jeff-phillipsHendersonville HS, Hendersonville, TN

# of years teaching: 31

“There are many people who inspire me, but those who have had a direct impact on the decisions I make in life are few. Dr. Jeffrey Phillips is one of those people; he gave me opportunities to do things I could only ever dream about before, and he pushed me to succeed at those things.”



Joseph Pompili


Cosgrove MS, Spencerport, NY

# of years teaching: 14

“Teaching music is not just a job for Joe, it’s a passion. Joe passes that love of music onto his students by creating countless opportunities for them to play in and out of school. As principal, I can’t begin to tell you how honored and lucky I am to have Joe here.”


Joseph Santanello

joseph-santanelloStrayer MS, Quakertown, PA

# of years teaching: 7

“The band is like a second family. We have been through a lot together; the bitter disappointment of losing and the wild exhilaration of victory. We have been through hours of scorching summer rehearsals and freezing thunderstorm performances. Mr. Santanello has always been there to motivate us, ensure we don’t give in, to teach us how to improve, and to nurture us into the musicians we are today. I am very proud to be able to say that I am one of his students.”

 Lucy Pascasio

lucy-pascasioKennemer MS, Fort Worth, TX

# of years teaching: 15

“She is truly dedicated to impacting the lives of others in a positive way. She has a love for teaching, leading, and inspiring others. Lucy has a vibrant yet easy-going disposition. Her professionalism is a well-balanced blend of competence, experience, and cordiality.”



Luis Piccinelli

View More: Springs MS, Coral Springs, FL

# of years teaching: 8

“From the first day of band class, I knew I was in the right place. Mr. Piccinelli was welcoming and upbeat, and his passion for music was very evident. He provided me with an excellent musical foundation that become the starting point for my future successes.”



Melinda Wharton

melinda-wharton Auburn Riverside HS, Auburn, WA

# of years teaching: 27

“Melinda Wharton is not just an ordinary music teacher, she is an amazing leader who inspires, engages, respects, and builds. And, she has created a community of music lovers and appreciators.”



Steve Stevens

steve-stevensUnion Academy, Charlotte, NC

# of years teaching: 6

“He is talented, enthusiastic, thorough, and loved by the students, parents, faculty, and administration. His walls are covered with ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ notes. Now, instead of him calling directors for advice, other directors call him. I say in all candor, and with true admiration, he has become a legend at the Academy and will soon be at the state level.”


 Dorothy Riepenhoff

dorothySaints Peter and Paul School, Wellston, OH

# of years teaching: 43

“I am a product of Dorothy’s passion for instilling music into the hearts of children. Many years ago, I was one of the students she picked up as a show choir member after another teacher told me that she “wasn’t sure why she wasted her time with me”. I was crushed in spirit but Dorothy talked me into joining her group. I feel I would not have continued performing and would certainly have not pursued a BA in Music had it not been for her compassion and encouragement. I’m not sure I have strayed far from her instruction since.”


The 2016 Music Educator of the Year award is sponsored by Vandoren.

To learn more about the Music & Arts Music Educator of the Year award and to find out who our 3 finalists will be, visit To register for the annual Music & Arts Midwest Reception, visit

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