Celebrating Our Champions

Over the last decade, the CMA Foundation has been committed to investing in quality music education throughout the country. As our work has progressed and we’ve learned more about the overwhelming challenges that face music education – and its educators, we felt motivated to go beyond simply supporting the education system but to also champion the incredible human beings who go well above and beyond their role and responsibilities in the classroom and who are vital to their students and communities.


2022 Music Teachers of Excellence Award Recipients

“We are incredibly proud to support these 30 amazing music teachers through this program” says Tiffany Kerns, Executive Director, CMA Foundation. “Music Education is essential to the well-being of students everywhere. We believe that without excellent teachers, a high-quality education for our students wouldn’t be possible. Welcoming this new class brings our staff and Country community so much joy – we cannot wait to celebrate their achievements this fall!”


In 2016, the CMA Foundation launched Music Teachers of Excellence to celebrate, honor, and invest in music education teachers who exemplify excellence.

Did you know?

94% of public school teachers in the U.S. spend their own money on classroom supplies.

The CMA Foundation proudly presents each MTOE Award recipient with a stipend of $5,000 to be split evenly between supporting classroom and personal needs.

To date, the CMA Foundation has honored 120 music teachers and given $700k to support their excellence.


The 2020 Music Teachers of Excellence was announced March 9, 2020, just days before the COVID -19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. With celebrations set to take place in May 2020 and a few failed attempts at rescheduling for the safety of all attendees, the Foundation welcomed the 2020 recipients to Nashville for “The 55th” Annual CMA Awards” for a celebratory reception and a night of Country Music.


Country superstar, Dierks Bentley hosted the fourth annual CMA Foundation Music Teachers of Excellence awards, where we celebrated and honored 30 music teachers throughout Tennessee and U.S., for their commitment to shaping the next generation through music. These change agents go above and beyond their role and responsibilities in the classroom and are vital to their students and communities.


Neshawn Calloway
Chattanooga, TN

Becoming a CMA music teacher of excellence has opened the door for me to collaborate and work with other educators outside of my building. The awards also brought recognition to my vocal program which in turn has given my students performance opportunities within our community. The awards reception was first class, and the awards show far exceeded my expectation. I’ve had the pleasure of serving as a mentor and it has been so rewarding for me to share the benefit of my experience with newer teachers. The funds received by my program allowed me to purchase singers masks for my students so that they were able to make music during a very difficult school year. Thank you, CMA, for your continued support of music education.

Joanie Padgett
Fitzgerald, GA

Being selected as a Music Teacher of Excellence has been one of the most amazing highlights of my career as a music educator. As music educators, I feel like many of us become accustomed to running all of the “behind the scenes” aspects of our programs and falling into the background. The CMA Foundation reminds us that it’s ok to be appreciated and given the spotlight for our hard work and dedication. Not only did the CMA Foundation make me feel seen, heard, respected, and appreciated as music educator, they also provided multiple educational resources for me and my students. I can’t speak enough positive words about this experience. Thank you, CMA Foundation!

Keith Hancock
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

What an incredible experience the CMA Music Teachers of Excellence was! Long before we arrived in Nashville, we were made to feel like celebrities and incredibly important people to the CMA Foundation. With teachers receiving such a mixed bag of support in our day-to-day lives, it was amazing to feel the level of support from the Foundation, as well as the CMA artists. From the connections with local and national media, to the night of the CMA Awards, music education was put on the spotlight, and the great work that is happening around the country was clearly evident. Thank you to the CMA Foundation and its supporters for the hard work that is done to continue to promote music education and teachers. I will never forget this unique experience!