THE CMA FOUNDATION HONORS MUSIC EDUCATORS AT SIXTH MUSIC TEACHERS OF EXCELLENCE CEREMONY, HOSTED BY KIX BROOKS
Special Appearances by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Artists Within the Country Music Community
The CMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, held its sixth Music Teachers of Excellence ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Marathon Music Works in Nashville. Hosted by Country Music Hall of Fame member and music education advocate Kix Brooks, of Brooks & Dunn, 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’s office for a professional development session, where they heard from leaders and executives including CMA Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Trahern, CMA Foundation Community Impact Director Franklin Willis, Amro Music’s Nick Averwater, and members of the CMA Communications team on a variety of topics ranging from leadership skills and effective habits to media coaching. Later, they were joined by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona for lunch and a Q&A session.
The evening celebration included a red carpet, dinner with more than 25 artists from the Country Music community, and a variety of performances throughout the night. Music students from Nashville’s Hillwood High School introduced the night’s host, Brooks, with a Brooks & Dunn medley, which included the hits “My Maria,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” and “Neon Moon.” Later in the program, the students performed Randy Travis’ “Heroes and Friends” as well as joined Brooks to perform the Brooks & Dunn classic “Rock My World (Little Country Girl),” which concluded with a standing ovation.
The event also featured several guest speakers, including Secretary Cardona, who highlighted just how critical music and arts education is in a student’s life and celebrated the passion and dedication displayed by each of the 30 teachers in the room. Other speakers included Trahern, who spoke to the impact music educators have on the next generation and highlighted the value the Country Music community places on sustaining high-quality and equitable music and arts programs, CMA Foundation Executive Director Tiffany Kerns, who detailed the mission of the CMA Foundation and Brooks’ key role in its establishment through his unwavering commitment and advocacy for music education. Nashville Mayor John Cooper also took the stage to honor this year’s 30 Music Teachers of Excellence and express his congratulations for their accomplishment.
Shamari Suttle, whose music teacher Johnathan Vest, was a 2020 Music Teacher of Excellence gave a heartwarming account of Vest’s intentional investment in Suttle’s life both in the music classroom and beyond. He spoke about the power of a teacher’s role in a student’s life and how he’s continued to use the skills and tools Vest instilled in him in every area of life.
Videos played throughout the evening, with one featuring music students discussing the “myths” around music teachers while another highlighted the power and unity found in music, especially over the last two years. Country Music artists who could not be in attendance at the event also shared congratulatory messages for the teachers.
Immediately following the program, teachers and special guests enjoyed an after-party complete with a DJ and dancing.
In addition to Wednesday’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.
2022 Music Teachers of Excellence Award Recipients (in alphabetical order):
- Justin Antos – Dwight D. Eisenhower High School, Community High School District 218, Blue Island, IL
- Evan Burton – Fred J. Page Middle School, Williamson County Schools, Franklin, TN
- Jesse Cannon II – Duncanville High School, Duncanville Independent School District, Duncanville, TX
- Jared Cassedy – Lexington High School, Lexington Public Schools, Lexington, MA
- Sara Cowan – Central High School, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, NE
- Alicia Engram – Eagle View Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Antioch, TN
- Elaina Gallas – Edmondson Elementary School, Williamson County Schools, Brentwood, TN
- Jason Glashauser – South Clinton Elementary School, Clinton City Schools, Clinton, TN
- Vivian Gonzalez – Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami, FL
- John David Hazlett – McGavock High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Michael Holland – Nolensville High School, Williamson County Schools, Nolensville, TN
- Samuel Holmes – Garden Hills Elementary School, Atlanta Public Schools, Atlanta, GA
- Trey Jacobs – Nashville School of the Arts, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Kevin Jankowski – W.H. Oliver Middle School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Ollie Liddell – Memphis Central High School, Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN
- Jarrett Lipman – Claudia Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson High School, North East Independent School District, San Antonio, TX
- Andrew Lynn – Stewarts Creek Middle School, Rutherford County Schools, Smyrna, TN
- Darlene Machacon – John A. Murdy Elementary School, Garden Grove Unified School District, Garden Grove, CA
- Margaret Maurice – Billingsville-Cotswold Elementary School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, NC
- Tyler Merideth – Hillwood High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Marie Millikin – Tara Oaks Elementary School, Collierville Municipal School District, Collierville, TN
- Linzie Mullins – Snowden School, Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN
- Joseph Powell – White Station High School, Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN
- Samantha Reid – Isaac Litton Middle School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Emily Riley – Julia Green Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Danielle Leigh Taylor – Mt. View Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Antioch, TN
- Matthew Trevino – Roan Forest Elementary School, North East Independent School District, San Antonio, TX
- Tiffany Turner – Brentwood Middle School, Williamson County Schools, Brentwood, TN
- Susan Waters – W.H. Oliver Middle School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
- Frank Zimmerer – Antioch High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Antioch, TN