On Tuesday, Joel Denton, band director at Ooltewah High School, picked up his CMA Award at the CMA Foundation’s third annual Music Teachers of Excellence Awards held in Nashville.
There were 34 music educators from districts across the state of Tennessee, as well as Chicago, Cincinnati, Seattle and Los Angeles, honored for their innovation and commitment to music education.
The invite-only event was hosted by multi-platinum RCA Records Nashville recording artist and CMA Foundation board member Chris Young at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works.
The CMA Foundation created the Music Teachers of Excellence program in 2016 to recognize the best and brightest music teachers from Nashville and beyond.
CMA says award recipients show a dedication to bringing a quality music program to their students, and they have had a significant impact on their school community through music. In addition to a night of celebration, Denton and the other dedicated educators each receive a stipend from the CMA Foundation in recognition of their tireless work for their students and music programs.
“Research continues to show us that a quality music education will have a positive impact on a student’s academic achievement and social development and a lot of that responsibility falls in the hands of music educators, ” said Tiffany Kerns, CMA director of Community Outreach, in a release about the award dinner. “We are excited to have Chris Young join us this year as our host to help honor music teachers from across the country, thanking them for their dedication to students and their music community.” “As someone who’s benefitted from music education, I am so thankful for the music teachers who helped me along the way,” Chris Young added.
Denton has been the band director at Ooltewah High for more than 30 years, and he is also the chair of the Fine Arts Department at the school. The Hamilton County Department of Education says the Ooltewah High marching band is consistently recognized as one of the most innovative and entertaining in the state. Ooltewah bands led by Denton have competed nationally with some of the best in the country in Bands of America regional and Grand National competitions. His Ooltewah bands have also performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
The Music Teachers of Excellence award was started in 2016 by the CMA Foundation. For a teacher to earn a CMA award, music educators must score 3+ on the 2017 Compass Level of Effectiveness, submit a CMA application, a letter of recommendation from the school principal and a video of the teacher teaching in an instructional setting. Selection criteria include evidence of teaching excellence, positive contributions to school culture, evidence of continued professional growth, impact on student learning, and evidence of advocating for music education.
According to the CMA website, the award and recognition event was started to recognize music teachers for not only being an important piece of a child’s well-rounded education but also for their importance in the greater community.