CMA Announces 2017 Music Teachers of Excellence Honorees

CMA Announces 2017 Music Teachers of Excellence Honorees

Little Big Town to Host Celebration Evening
April 26


NASHVILLE – The CMA Foundation will honor 31 teachers from across the country as 2017 CMA Music Teachers of Excellence, furthering its mission to support music education programs in Nashville and beyond.

Honorees will attend a celebratory dinner Wednesday, April 26 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, home of CMA Music Festival’s Nightly Concerts, whose ticket proceeds directly benefit the CMA Foundation. Five-time CMA Vocal Group of the Year Little Big Town will host the evening. The group’s Karen Fairchild serves on the CMA Foundation Board of Directors.

“The CMA Foundation is committed to proactively addressing the challenges music education programs face, and there is no more meaningful or efficient way to do that than to honor these top music educators who are on the front lines, consistently making a difference in their students’ lives,” said Joe Galante, CMA Foundation Chairman.

Now in its second year, CMA Music Teachers of Excellence recognizes music educators who are making an impact through music in their classrooms and school communities. Twenty five educators were selected from Metro Nashville Public Schools, with six additional recipients from across the U.S. who were selected through a partnership with Give a Note Foundation’s Music In Our Schools Tour with Radio Disney. These dedicated educators will each receive a stipend from the CMA Foundation in recognition of their tireless work for their students and music programs.

The honors program was created in partnership with Metro Schools’ Music Makes Us initiative as a result of a study released in 2015 that focused on the needs and challenges of music educators in the district. Foundation funds are generated through CMA Music Festival ticket proceeds and presented on behalf of the artists who participate in the event for free.

Grammy Award-winning vocal group Little Big Town’s critically-acclaimed new album, The Breaker, recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 4 on the Billboard 200, marking the group’s fourth Top 10 project on the Billboard 200 chart. “Better Man,” the hit lead single from The Breaker, recently spent two weeks topping the Country airplay charts (Billboard, Mediabase) and is the group’s second two-week No. 1 at Country radio. The reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year continue to make headlines with their historic, year-long artist residency at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium – the first ever artist residency in the venue’s 125-year history – with additional dates announced for May, July, September, and November. For more information on Little Big Town, visit

The 2017 CMA Music Teachers of Excellence honorees are:
Jennifer Barnes (Lockeland Design Center)
Emily Biederstadt (Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center)
Rita Black (Eakin Elementary)
Christopher Blackmon (Thomas Edison Elementary)
M. Jennifer Burton (Cane Ridge Elementary School)
Brian Gallagher (Ramona High School, Riverside, Calif.)
Matt Gerry (Salina South Middle School, Salina, Kan.)
Mark Hale (Mt. View Elementary)
Kathy Hart (Harpeth Valley Elementary School)
Daniel Hayes (Granbery Elementary)
John Hazlett (McGavock High School)
Kathy Hull (Hull-Jackson Montessori Magnet School)
Ira Jacobs (Head Middle Magnet Prep)
Kevin Jankowski (Oliver Middle School)
Julie Jolly (West End Middle School)
Lisa Kemp (Haywood Elementary)
Angela Mangum (Tar River Elementary, Franklinton, N.C.)
Melissa McClaran (Cane Ridge Elementary)
Anna Maria Miller (Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School/Martin Luther King Academic Magnet School)
Franklin Norris (Meigs Academic Magnet)
Colin O’Dwyer (James Otis Elementary, East Boston, Mass.)
Rebecca Pearson (Norman Binkley Elementary School)
Ramon Rivera (Wenatchee High School, Wenatchee, Wash.)
Roberta Rodgers (Glendale Elementary)
Alaina Schwartz (Crieve Hall Elementary)
Don Stinson (Joliet Central High School, Joliet, Ill.)
Matthew Taylor (Meigs Academic Magnet)
Elizabeth Voltz, Ed. D. (Creswell Middle Prep School of the Arts)
Paul Waters (Bellevue Middle School)
Susan Waters (Oliver Middle School)
John Womack (McGavock High School)

CMA created the non-profit 501(c)(3) CMA Foundation in 2011. Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, the CMA Foundation focuses on improving and sustaining music education programs everywhere while supporting worthwhile causes important to the Country Music Association. To date, CMA and the CMA Foundation have donated $17.5 million to support this worthy endeavor.

For more information, visit