Music Educator Award

In 2016 the Rockford Symphony Orchestra created the Outstanding Music Educator Award to recognize an outstanding music educator in our community.

Current, full-time educators in Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Rock counties who teach music in public or private schools are eligible to be nominated. The award will alternate each year between elementary and secondary teachers. The 2019/20 Award will go to a secondary teacher.

The 2019/20 Outstanding Music Educator Award is generously sponsored by:

Congratulations Amy Jensen!

The 2019-2020 Award Nominees Are:

WESTON BRABECK  |  Band Director, Guilford High School

When I think about why I love teaching music, it's hard to pick just one thing. From the painted lines of a football field to the subtle marks in a score; music is my passion and a passion I hope to instill in all my students. It is one of my biggest joys seeing them grow musically and creatively as we share experiences as a band family. I am so grateful that I get to spend my days doing what I love while helping them grow as a Guilford Viking.


AMY JENSEN  |  Choral Director, Hononegah High School

Making connections. Music is the inspiring all encompassing force in the classroom that builds relationships, creates meaningful experiences, opens the human soul to expression and emotions and most of all has the ability to join us together.



DYLAN LADD  |  West Middle School and Auburn High School CAPA Choir Director

I've really enjoyed my time teaching music, especially watching students start the school year with a passion and desire to learn and then progressing throughout their journey into musicians.  There is nothing better than going to school and having a room full of students that are excited to learn.  I have yet to have a day where I am not looking forward to going to work.


SHAWN MAHER  |  Band Director, Winnebago High School

One thing I love about teaching music is creating an environment where students can come to my class, forget about their problems, escape and just make music.  Giving students that outlet each day is very rewarding.



EVON SAMS  |  Band Director/ Class Piano Instructor, Jefferson High School 

My favorite thing about teaching music is having the opportunity to help students discover something about themselves and their humanity.



PAUL SMITH  |  Band and Orchestra Director, Thurgood Marshall Middle School 

In my forty-one years of teaching music, I have enjoyed sharing music’s intrinsic values of sharing, dedication, wonder, rewards of hard work, beauty, community, genuine communication, creativity, science, math, movement, the expression of every emotion and connection to the inner self.  Watching a student go from screeches, squeaks and squawks to become an accomplished player brings great pride.  Watching them grow and develop as quality people because of music, brings great satisfaction.  Knowing that I have given students tools for expression, enjoyment and a sense of community that can be a part of their lives until their last breath, brings me great joy.  That’s what I love about teaching music.

Nominees should embody the following qualities:

  • Demonstrates passion for music education
  • Is a leader in the music education community
  • Has a documented successful music education program at his/her school
  • Makes a measurable difference in the lives of their students

The nomination must include information from the nominator as to how their candidate embodies the qualities of the award, as well as a letter of support from another peer or administrator of the candidate. This award will be reviewed by a committee made up of RSO board members, members of the musical community, and community members at large.

The winner will receive:

  • An invitation for two to the RSO's Music Education Awards Dinner
  • A recognition plaque
  • $250 to spend on classroom supplies
  • $250 to use for personal professional development
  • Two subscriptions to the RSO’s Classics Series concerts


Past Winners:

2019:Brad Koloch, Kishwaukee Elementary School

2018: Jeremiah Kramper, Hononegah High School

Special Recognition for a Lifetime of Service:
Janice Mitchell, Winnebago Middle School

Special Recognition for being a Rising Star in music education:
Colleen Bartimoccia, Boylan High School

2017: Mary Shore, Johnson Elementary School

Special Recognition: Inger Langsholt, Rock Valley College

2016: Lisa Eaton, King Elementary School