THE CMA FOUNDATION HONORS MUSIC EDUCATORS AT SEVENTH MUSIC TEACHERS OF EXCELLENCE CEREMONY
Performances by Lauren Daigle, Little Big Town, Caitlyn Smith and The War And Treaty
CMA Foundation Marks Milestone By Investing $1 Million Toward Music Teachers of Excellence Recipients
The CMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, held its seventh Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Belmont University’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville. The event honored 30 music teachers—10 teachers from Metro Nashville Public Schools, 10 from districts across the state of Tennessee, and 10 from across the United States. Honorees were selected for their commitment to bringing a high-quality music program to their students and the impact they have had on their school community through music.
Teachers began the day at CMA HQ for a series of professional development sessions, where they heard from leaders and executives including CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern, CMA Foundation Community Impact Director Franklin Willis, and members of the CMA Communications team on a variety of topics ranging from leadership skills and effective habits to media coaching. From the moment the teachers walked into the room, it was clear that this experience was going to be something special. The professional development part of the day was wrapped with a jam session, facilitated by Rashad Rayford, Elevate Your Vibe LLC, that reinforced the notion that music has the power to inspire, connect and bring out the best in everyone.
The evening celebration included a red carpet, dinner with more than 20 artists from the Country Music community and a variety of performances throughout the night. Lauren Daigle spoke about the impact she felt as a child growing up in a family of educators before captivating the audience with a stirring performance of her song “Valuable.” Country powerhouse, Little Big Town, took the stage to perform “Rich Man” while Caitlyn Smith brought the house down with a powerful performance of her song “Dreamin’s Free.” The War And Treaty closed the night with a showstopping rendition of their song “Yesterday’s Burn,” which brought the audience to their feet. Michael Trotter, of The War And Treaty, also gave a heartfelt speech honoring music teachers as “protectors” and emphasizing the many roles they play in a child’s life.
Madeline Edwards, Lindsay Ell, Filmore, Alex Hall and Frank Ray also took the stage to share how music education impacted their lives and how the CMA Foundation is supporting music and arts education in schools across the country. A student group from schools across Middle Tennessee who made up the CMA Foundation Youth Choir emerged behind the audience for a surprise performance and powerful rendition of “We Are Nashville.”
Dr. Jarel Jackson, a product and parent of MNPS, gave a powerful and emotional speech on the impact he’s seen music have on his daughter Makayla, who performed as part of the CMA Foundation Youth Choir that night. Jackson reflected on how music has been an outlet for his daughter to grow in her confidence while also channeling her energy into something she has a natural gift for.
The event showcased multiple other guest speakers who emphasized the vital role of music and arts education and applauding the passion and commitment demonstrated by this year’s Music Teachers of Excellence. Trahern spoke on the importance of providing visibility to the teachers that are not only bringing out the musical talents of our youth but are shaping their lives in impactful ways. CMA Foundation Executive Director Tiffany Kerns detailed the significance of celebrating music teachers and their dedication to the CMA Foundation’s mission – to improve lives through music. Apple Music’s Head of Programming and CMA Board Chairman Charlie Morgan also took the stage to give a special thank you to those who made this event happen and the community of music supporters in the room.
Tenth grade MNPS student Valeria Romero, whose music teacher Dr. Nita Smith watched proudly from the crowd, gave a heartfelt testimonial about the challenges she faced as an immigrant student and the barriers that her music class helped to break, while thanking all music teachers for being the guiding light in so many students’ lives.
The excitement and celebration didn’t end there. Immediately following the program, teachers and special guests enjoyed an after-party complete with a DJ and dancing. Teachers, CMA staff, industry partners and music supporters in attendance made sure to soak up every second of the unforgettable night together. Medallion-wearing educators took to the dance floor to wrap up this well-deserved evening of celebration.
In addition to Tuesday’s celebration, the CMA Foundation invested $5,000 to each recipient – half for each teacher’s music program to help enhance their music program and half for personal use. Past winners have used their award earnings for down payments on homes, continuing education, to record their own music and more. Thanks to the generosity of our industry partners, the CMA Foundation was able to secure sponsorship for all 30 of its Music Teachers of Excellence recipients through the “Sponsor A Teacher” campaign. To date, the CMA Foundation has invested $1 million towards its Music Teachers of Excellence honorees to ensure music teachers have the support and funding needed to create thriving programs within their schools and communities.
Sponsors for the 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence event included Dr Pepper, Anheuser-Busch, Kendra Scott, Strung, Conn Selmer and Prince Rhythm Company.
2023 Music Teachers of Excellence Award Recipients (in alphabetical order):
- Alicia Engram – Eagle View Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Antioch, TN
- Ann Marie Morris – Cole Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Antioch, TN
- Ashley Harris – Spring Station Middle School, Williamson County Schools, Spring Hill, TN
- Briana Vogt – Franklin High School, Williamson County Schools, Franklin, TN
- Corey Graves – Tony A. Jackson Middle School, Forney Independent School District, Forney, TX
- Crystal Briley – University Park Creative Arts School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, Charlotte, NC
- DaJuana “Dee” Hammonds – Hull-Jackson Montessori School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Danielle Leigh Taylor – Tusculum Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Elaina Gallas – Edmondson Elementary School, Williamson County School District, Brentwood, TN
- Elizabeth Carter – Snowden School, Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN
- Eric Songer – Chaska Middle School West, Eastern Carver County School District, Chaska, MN
- Ethan Chessin – Camas High School, Camas School District, Camas, WA
- Frank Zimmerer – Antioch High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Antioch, TN
- Garrett Doo – Smyrna High School, Rutherford County Schools, Smyrna, TN
- Jacqueline Hanna – Glenview Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Jason Glashauser – South Clinton Elementary School, Clinton City School District, Clinton, TN
- Kacee Sanders – DuPont Hadley Middle School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Old Hickory, TN
- Kate Affainie – Granbery Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Brentwood, TN
- Kristina Waugh – Rossview High School, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, Clarksville, TN
- Mandy Funderburk – Meigs Academic Magnet School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Matthew Trevino – Roan Forest Elementary School, North East Independent School District, San Antonio, TX
- Nita L. Smith – Isaiah T. Creswell Middle Magnet School of the Visual and Performing Arts, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Nora Hernández – Monroe Elementary Language Academy, Garden Grove Unified School District, Fountain Valley, CA
- Patrick Bourn – Franklin Elementary School, Franklin Special School District, Franklin, TN
- Rose Hellmers – Ravenwood High School, Williamson County Schools, Brentwood, TN
- Ryan Mack – P.S. 10 Magnet School of Math, Science, and Design Technology, NYC DOE District 15, Brooklyn, NY
- Shawna Longo – Durban Avenue Elementary School, Hopatcong Borough Schools, Hopatcong, NJ
- Sherie Grossman – Mt. Juliet High School, Wilson County Schools, Mt. Juliet, TN
- Stephanie San Roman – Oswego High School, Oswego Community Unit School District 308, Oswego, IL
- Stephen Lawrence-Carroll – North Atlanta High School, Atlanta City School District, Atlanta, GA
About the CMA Foundation
Established in 2011 as the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association (CMA), the CMA Foundation is committed to improving and sustaining high-quality music education programs across the United States, working to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in music. Through strategic partnerships, professional development and grant distribution, the CMA Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), invests various resources across the national public school system, after school programs, summer camps and community outreach organizations.The 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence honorees on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Belmont University Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville.
Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA Country artists celebrate the 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence honorees on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Belmont University Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville.
Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA Lauren Daigle performs at the 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony at the Belmont University Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Photo Credit: Nathan Zucker/CMA Little Big Town, backed by Charlie Worsham, performs at the 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony at the Belmont University Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Photo Credit: Nathan Zucker/CMA Caitlyn Smith performs at the 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony at the Belmont University Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA The War And Treaty performs at the 2023 Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony at the Belmont University Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA The CMA Foundation held its seventh Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Belmont University’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville.
Photo Credit: CMA