CMEA congratulates our 2021 and 2022 Awardees!
Awardees will be celebrated on Thursday, January 27th during the Opening Session.
Teresa Himel has served as a General Music Teacher, Vocal Music Teacher, and Choir Director in Colorado since 1988. Her tenure in teaching has included assignments at Graland Country Day School, Centennial Middle School, Ryan Elementary School, and Douglass Elementary School. She served on the CMEA State Assembly as a District Representative for two years.
Raisha Quinn has served as a General Music Teacher, Vocal Music Teacher, Choir Director, and Orchestra Director in Colorado since 1992. Her tenure in teaching has included assignments at Ten Sleep Schools, Clear Creek Secondary School, and East Middle School. Raisha has served on the CMEA State Assembly as a District Representative, Chair-elect and Chair of the Vocal Music Council. She has received the East Middle School Masonic Teacher of the Year Award and North Big Horn Basin Educators of the Year Award.
John Balderson serves as the Instrumental Music Teacher and Band Director at Roosevelt HS since 2007-. John has also taught at Milliken Middle School, Fort Lupton High School, Fort Morgan High School & 5th-grade band, and Band Director at La Junta High School & La Junta Middle School. John received the “You Make a Difference” Award in April 2007, Fort Lupton High School for “Commitment and Dedication to our Students.” John belongs to numerous professional organizations.
Mark Dorn serves as Professor of Music and Coordinator of Instrumental Music at Colorado Christian University. He has been a part of the faculty at Colorado Christian University for 26 years. Previous to this role, he taught in schools in Indiana. Mark has received the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, Colorado Christian University in 2010 and Faculty Member of the Year, Colorado Christian University in 2003. Mark also served as the Director of the Colorado All-State Jazz Band (small school) in 2014. Mark has served on the CMEA State Assembly as a representative on the College/University Council and belongs to numerous professional organizations.
Matt Doty serves as the Director of Vocal Music and Director of Choral Activities at Palisade High School. He also served as an Instructor of Voice at Colorado Mesa University from 2009-2010. His teaching experience spans elementary through collegiate levels of education. Matt has been awarded the 2007 Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Teacher of the Year Nominee 2005/2006 National Honor Roll of American Teachers and is listed in five editions of Who’s Who Among American Teachers. He has served on the CMEA Board of Directors as both the Vocal Council Chair and Chair-elect and has served on the CMEA State Assembly as a district representative. Matt also serves as a Governor on the All-State High School Choir Board of Directors.
Stan Scott has been an active member of CMEA for 36 years. Stan served as the Director of Vocal Music at Grand Junction Central High School from 1989-2000 and Pagosa Springs High School and Junior High from 1985-1988. He received the NFHS 2019 Colorado Music Teacher of the year award, the Mesa County Masonic teacher of the year in 2018, 2007, 2000. Stan was published in the Choral Director Magazine “Choral Director of Note” 2010 and wrote an article in a published book, “More best practices for High School Classrooms” (2010 Corwin Publishers). He was also awarded the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year in 2003, Boettcher Foundation Teacher Recognition Award in 2006, the Daily Sentinel Teacher of the Week in 2007, and recognized in MENC magazine article as one of the top 12 music educators in the state of Colorado. Stan served on the CMEA All-State High School Choir Governing Board from 2007-2011 and serves as an adjudicator in Colorado and Utah.
Dawn Wisdom has taught elementary through high school vocal and instrumental music for over 25 years. She currently serves as the Director of Vocal Music at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs. Dawn has received the ABE Arts Educator of the Year in 2019, the Colorado Springs Chorale Award for Excellence in Education in 2011, and the CMSD 12 Teacher of the Year in 2001. Dawn has served on the CMEA Vocal Council for ten years and for the Colorado ACDA as the Pop & Show R&R chair for three years.
Honored Administrator Award
Aaron Hoffman is the principal of Widefield High School, a position he has held since 2014. Mr. Hoffman holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Colorado State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Previous to his current position, he served as principal at Janitell Junior High School and Talbott Elementary, and as assistant principal at Talbott and Webster Elementary Schools. His entire teaching career has been in the Widefield School District, where he started as an mathematics teacher at Watson Junior High School followed by Widefield High School.
Mr. Hoffman is also a graduate of Widefield High School. As a Widefield student, he participated in the choral program each year and was selected to the 1987 and 1988 Colorado All-State Choirs. He performed in the school musical in both junior high and high school, served as a piano accompanist, and earned numerous music awards. Mr. Hoffman received a music scholarship to attend Colorado State University and participated in 2 CSU choirs each year. He sang professionally and recorded with “The Poor Boys” acapella group for 12 years, performing throughout Colorado and the United States.
Under Mr. Hoffman’s leadership, Widefield High School has a vibrant music program with 300 students involved. There are 5 music staff with offerings in choir, orchestra, band, jazz, theory, piano, small ensembles, marching band, and a music production pathway. It is an understatement to say that Mr. Hoffman is extremely supportive of the music students. He even performs as a guest vocalist with all ensembles.
Honored Administrator Award
Dr. Lisa Roberts is the principal of Grandview High School in the Cherry Creek School District, a position she has held since 2017. A Denver native and graduate of Eaglecrest High School, she was a scholarship athlete in softball at the University of Evansville in Indiana. She has also worked in media (including a stint at television station KUSA - 9News). Lisa enjoys being a mom to three children, the oldest of which is a softball player at Grandview.
Under Dr. Roberts’ leadership, the Grandview music program is widely respected throughout Colorado and nationally. Band, choir, and orchestra have all performed at CMEA. The musical theatre program has performed at ThesCon and been honored with “Bobby G” Awards. Student ensembles have received countless awards at festivals in Colorado and across the country. Grandview has taken performance tours to London, Italy, Ireland, and Eastern Europe during the last ten years. Dr. Roberts supports a large performing arts staff, supports students in performing publicly in a safe manner during the Covid-19 pandemic, and has fought to keep music programs at the feeder middle school. Many students are selected each year to All State Band, Choir, and Orchestra, and other honor groups. All staff are supported in professional development. Music teachers annually attend the Midwest Clinic, CMEA, ACDA, Thespian Conference, and more. Grandview teachers accept student teachers and practicum students from universities across Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. Students are financially supported by a generous budget from the school each year. The Patrons parent group is one of the largest in the state and involves more parents than any other group at Grandview High School.
“Dr. Roberts wants the best for all Grandview students. She goes above and beyond to make sure music students…get the best opportunities possible. She pushes us to be better.”--Keith Farmer, GHS Band
“She walks alongside us, celebrates with us, pushes us, and fully allows us to expand our musical opportunities, always trusting our team’s vision and purpose.”--Mindy Lowen, GHS Orchestra
Exemplary Service to Music Education Award
Lech Usinowicz is the Executive Director of the Be FRANK Foundation and the Bayfield Middle/High Orchestra teacher. Mr. Usinowicz founded the Be FRANK Foundation in 2013. The acronym means “For the Recreational and Artistic Needs of Kids.” It is an organization dedicated to the engagement of youth so they develop lifelong skills of creativity, accountability, practice, and ensemble through the power of music. Mr. Usinowicz has taught general and extra curricular music for 11 years at Bayfield Elementary/Intermediate School, orchestra for 6 years, orchestra at Bayfield Middle School, and orchestra 3 years at Bayfield High School in Bayfield, Colorado.
Mr. Usinowicz introduced the first ever string program to the Bayfield School district in 2008 and continues to develop the program. With the help of the Be FRANK Foundation and the Bayfield School District, Mr. Usinowicz implemented the first ever orchestra class at Bayfield Middle School in 2014 and at Bayfield High School in 2016.
In 2016, the Be FRANK Foundation took over the management of the Durango 9-R Schools extracurricular orchestra for each of their Elementary schools, the Shared-Home School program, and Juniper Elementary and Mountain Middle charter schools. Also in 2016, Mr. Usinowicz was hired by the San Juan Symphony as the music director for its Youth Programs which included the Youth Symphony (high school and undergraduate musicians), the Philharmonic (middle and high school) and the Junior Orchestra (upper elementary and middle school). Under his leadership, these youth programs grew to be highly successful, both in the increased number of youth participating, as well as in their musicianship. During this same time, the Be F.R.A.N.K. Foundation programs increased, serving over 330 students through 23 music programs offered in Bayfield, Ignacio & Durango.
The Foundation continues to serve its communities and K-12 students during the COVID-19 pandemic with online classes, activities, and instrument rental support.
Exemplary Service to Music Education Award
Judy Bridewell Biondini was a piano student at the Aspen Music Festival and School in the 1960’s. She received her BFA in Piano Performance from Stephens College in 1973, and pursued a masters’ program at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She has maintained an active music studio in Colorado Springs since 1974, as a private piano teacher, vocal coach, accompanist and collaborative pianist. Judy briefly taught choir and conducted basic music classes at Benet Hill Academy and Ft. Carson Middle School in the 1970s. Since 1980 she has been accompanying and coaching instrumental students in the CMSD12 district, within the Colorado Springs community and around the Pikes Peak region.
Judy has given tirelessly of her time and efforts to generations of students. She has provided piano accompaniment to hundreds of students as they prepare and perform at the Solo/Ensemble festival. Judy has also held recitals at her house - usually about a month after solo/ensemble - allowing her students a chance to improve upon their performance. Not only does she accompany students every year, but she also teaches private lessons. .
Judy also serves as director of the “Springs Players”, serves as chair of the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs Senior Outreach Project, and is a member of the newly formed Aspen Alumni Committee. One would be hard pressed to find someone who has done more for our area–especially the Cheyenne Mountain D12 community–than Judy. Her tireless work and effort have been present for over 40 years!
“Judy is a champion to our community and a driving force for students musically and professionally!”--Dan Bell, Cheyenne Mountain Junior High Band
“Her passion for music is inspirational and contagious. She is committed to our artform with singleness of mind. She is a consummate ambassador for music as an artform.”--Michael Thrasher, Associate Dean, Florida State University College of Music
Outstanding Young Music Educator
Angelo Sapienza is the Director of Bands at Doherty High School, where he conducts the Concert Band, Wind Symphony, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Pit Orchestra. He also teaches the Spartan Legion Marching Band and Pep Bands.
A Colorado native, Mr. Sapienza earned his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado- Boulder and Master’s degree in Music Performance from Colorado State University. As a performer, Mr. Sapienza was named a semifinalist in audition for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, and participated inn five national tours as a member of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps.
Before teaching at Doherty High School, Mr. Sapienza served as an Instrumental Music Teacher at Rampart High School instructing band orchestra, and general music classes. He also taught at CUS as a graduate teaching assistant and at Evergreen High School as a primary instructor of the “Cougar Pride Marching Band.” He is an active member of the Colorado Bandmaster’s Association, the Colorado Music Educators Association, NAfME, and is an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Outside of teaching and performing music, Mr. Sapienza enjoys stand-up comedy, being outdoors, and Denver Broncos football.
Outstanding Young Music Educator
Ms. Proctor is in her third year serving as Director of Bands at Westview Middle School. As an outstanding young educator, she has stepped into multiple leadership roles in both our school and community. At Westview, Ms. Proctor serves as Team Leader of elective teachers, on the Team Leader committee, and as the Area Representative for the St. Vrain Valley Education Association. Recently she served on a team responsible for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in St. Vrain schools, where she led professional development training for our staff. At the district level, Ms. Proctor serves on the SVVSD Music Leadership Committee. In her short time as an educator, she has become a well respected and a strong leader in our school and district.
Ms. Proctor also serves as the Director of the Longmont Youth Symphonic Band, a position she earned during the 2020 COVID Pandemic. Amidst the pandemic, she was able to grow the ensemble and found creative solutions to keeping the program relevant and thriving.
In Ms. Proctor’s own words, “I’ve been a COVID teacher longer than I have been a normal teacher.” Even during the pandemic, Ms. Proctor is focused on musical excellence and giving students something to look forward to each day. At the height of the pandemic, rehearsal spaces have ranged from being outside, the cafeteria, and gym in order to provide safe music making for students. Ms. Proctor continued to bring the community together with virtual performances and events.
“Ms. Proctor exemplifies both a talented and caring music educator who will do nearly anything for the students she serves as well as her colleagues.”--DJ Eipper, assistant principal, Westview Middle School
“Ms. Proctor is passionate about motivating youth through a shared connection to music and is inspired by the talent, tenacity, and creativity of young musicians.”--Chue Yeng Vue, orchestra director, Westview Middle School
Outstanding Young Music Educator
Avrial Turner is a third-year music educator who has found her place amongst the youngest of public education’s music students at Kyffin Elementary. Prior to Kyffin, she taught for two years at Leawood Elementary where she reignited a choral club, collaborated with cross-curricular teams to create new and exploratory programs, and was nominated two years in a row for Jeffco’s educator Values Awards for Exemplary Performance.
At Leawood, programs and extracurricular opportunities in music had been dormant for years prior, but Avrial sought to reignite the Choral Club and other student programs. Students in the Choral Club met twice a week before school to sing together, build community, and prepare performances, and fundraising events. Through this and cross-curricular and community opportunities, students were able to express and show their growth in authentic program environments and the group became a family. Students often commented that Choral Club was the only thing worth waking up early for.
Even though Avrial is a new teacher, she’s never slowed down on working to grow in her profession. Avrial seeks opportunities to expand her repertoire of teaching by taking online courses and seeking communities that specifically target the needs of her current students. She’s specifically been focused on communities where equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging work is a top priority. Through her unending drive to improve her teaching, she was able to explore new ideas and implement the most current research for student learning and growth.
Avrial is a graduate of Colorado State University’s Music Education program, and is a member of Organization of American Kodály Educators, National Associate for Music Education, and Jefferson County Educators Association.
“Avrial Turner is already an accomplished teacher who will continue to help guide thousands of students as they learn to love music and express their own musicianship. The learning, growth, and relationships her students experience will ensure that they are life-long musicians, no matter what their future path might be.”--Amy Woodley, JeffCo School Music Coordinator
“I can honestly say that in my 36 years in education, Avrial is the best music teacher with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of working.”--Martha Shehan, Leawood Elementary School Principal
Hall of Fame
Cameron Law served as an orchestra director in Mesa County Valley School District for 30 years at West Middle School and Grand Junction High School. He also was an adjunct cello instructor at Mesa State College/Colorado Mesa University for 15 years. Cameron continues to serve as principal cellist in the Grand Junction Symphony, String Editor for Grand Mesa Music Company, and Program Director for the Aspen Music Festival. Cameron has also been the Western Slope Representative and later state President of the Colorado American String Teachers Association.
Cameron has contributed to CMEA on many levels. Along with leading many student performances at the conference over the past 30 years, he has been an advocate for the importance of coming together and sharing our craft with others to ensure music education is strong in Colorado. Cameron is one of the main reasons behind the thriving string programs in Grand Junction. He pushes others to be their best.. The orchestra programs in Grand Junction have grown from 200 to over 2000 students. His leadership and insightful guidance were the catalyst to such healthy string programs. Cameron has a magic about him that is contagious. His passion for students and music education is evident to all who know him.
Cameron has shared his talents with countless students, both in and out of his own program. He has guest conducted honor orchestras in Colorado and New Mexico and adjudicated state festivals in Colorado, Utah, Hawaii, and New Mexico. He instills in students the value of music and instrumental performance, and what a gift it is to share musical gifts with others. His exceptional teaching, eloquent judging, meaningful music writing and editing are an inspiration for all musicians.
“Cameron Law is the kind of teacher you have once in a lifetime. The kind that inspires you, motivates you, and changes your life.”
“There is no one in the past 3 decades who has done more to help advance string music education in Colorado.”
“I think what makes Cameron so special is the enormous respect everyone has for him.”
Through his significant contribution to the music education profession, Cameron Law is hereby inducted into the CMEA Hall of Fame on this 28th day of January, 2021.
Hall of Fame
Anne Paulu is a native of Fort Collins, Colorado. Her violin studies began in the Poudre School District under Steve McNeal, She holds degrees from the University Colorado-Boulder in both violin performance and music education. She taught for three years at West Middle School in the Cherry Creek School District and has taught for 30 years in the Boulder Valley School District.
Anne is one of the most articulate and effective string teachers in Colorado. She exudes excellence in everything she does. Whether it is teaching a group of beginners, a middle school group of varied levels, or her own violin performance, Anne demonstrates a complete expertise, love and dedication to quality. Anne’s orchestras have been selected to perform at CMEA each time they auditioned. She is an innovator and advocate who has been integral in curriculum development. She has mentored over 20 student teachers, many of whom still teach in Colorado. While her leadership efforts have been mostly within the Boulder Valley School District, her impact has been statewide and beyond.
To watch Anne rehearse a group is to watch magic.. Her teaching is fast-paced and interesting, seasoned with a dash of humor. She is equal parts maestro, pedagogue, and parent. The result is consistently excellent playing at very high levels from every one of her ensembles. She is a true “pied piper” for string teaching who has built some of the largest programs in Colorado. Students love her, will practice for her, and produce wonderful music for her. She has touched the lives of an average of 250 students per day.
“Anne is one of Colorado’s finest educators. She has taught students how to perform to their utmost potential, helping them to develop the discipline they need to be successful in any field.”
“I have often marveled at how she is able to get these young people fired up about orchestra and want to do their best for her. After seeing her in action...I am no closer to figuring out how she creates this magic. Her contributions to music education will reverberate for many generations.”
Through her significant contribution to the music education profession, Anna Paulu is hereby inducted into the CMEA Hall of Fame on this 28th day of January, 2021.
Hall of Fame
James Austin has served as Chair of the Music Education Department at the University of Colorado Boulder, a position he held from 1997-2007. In 2006 he agreed to serve as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, a position he held until 2013, when he was asked to serve as Interim Dean of the College of Music. After that year he resumed his role as Associate Dean, serving for 5 years more (2014-2019). Jim has mentored countless undergraduates, served as major advisor to one PhD student after another, all while maintaining his active teaching of courses and his research.
Dr. Austin has presented at the CMEA annual conventions nine times since his arrival at CU in 1994. He has served as CMEA Board Research Chair and as a member of the CMEA University Council. He has also served in significant roles at organizations related to CMEA, and as an advisor to the CU Collegiate NAfME Chapter. He has been a consultant to schools within the state of Colorado: twice at the Boulder Valley School District, at Boulder High, the Adams-12 District, the Colorado Association for Music and Instruction, the Bear Creek School in Boulder and the Jefferson County School District.
What makes Jim Austin exceptional is, quite simply, the depth, breadth, and length of his involvement as a music educator, and the impact he has had on the discipline. Beginning with his own teaching, way back in Emmons, Minnesota in 1981, proceeding then on to his impactful scholarly research and many publications, his involvement at the grass roots level mentoring undergraduates through their student teaching, graduate students through their dissertations, and his many leadership roles, not the least of which is his impact on CMEA, he has set a standard that is truly extraordinary. He is the quintessential, superb and dedicated music educator, with a career spanning over 40 years devoted to excellence and best practices.
“Dr. Jim has led an extraordinary life dedicated to music education. In the course of his 40 years in music he has mentored hundreds of undergraduates who are now teaching in K-12 systems here in Colorado and beyond. His many graduate students hold faculty positions in major universities.” –Daniel Sher, CU-Boulder College of Music Dean Emeritus
“Dr. Jim Austin’s impact on the profession is nothing short of Herculean. He is the type of leader who is consistently doing the right things, asking the right questions, and doing it all without fanfare.” –Erik Johnson, Colorado State University
Through his significant contribution to the music education profession, James Austin is hereby inducted into the CMEA Hall of Fame on this 27th day of January, 2022
Hall of Fame
Tana Knopf served students in music programs in the Denver Public Schools for 40 years as an elementary, middle, and high school instrumental director, and then as a high school counselor. She assisted many students on their journey to a college/university/or conservatory program. Tana has also served CMEA for 17 years working at the conference registration desk.
Tana was the first African-American female to become a high school instrumental music director in the Denver Public Schools. She taught the students in the North High School music program for 13 years and served on numerous district committees. She instilled in her students a passion for music–students who lived in a high poverty, low socio-economic area of the city. Tana succeeded in making college part of the plan for many students and was able to show the importance that music participation played in their lives.
When Tana was at North High School, she found professional musicians to mentor her students and provide private lessons at a reduced rate. When chaperoning her students at All-State events, she personally paid for student meals out of her own pocket. As a counselor at Denver School of the Arts, she worked with students to show that post-secondary education was an option for them. Tana’s passion is one of the reasons that DSA had a 100% acceptance rate into colleges and universities.
“Tana is the ultimate role model. She exemplifies what an educator is to be for her students, colleagues, and community. I can think of only a few other educators in my 39-year career in education that I can hold to this high of a standard.” –William Kohut, retired DSA Principal
“Tana taught me the essence of equity in teaching all students and seeing students for what they are capable of, not just what they bring to class on any particular day.” –Dave Hammond, Denver School of the Arts
Through her significant contribution to the music education profession, Tana Knopf is hereby inducted into the CMEA Hall of Fame on this 27th day of January, 2022