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Staff Reports

NASHVILLE – The Country Music Association Foundation announced Tuesday that Mt. Juliet High School Band of Gold and orchestra director Sherie Grossman received a Music Teacher of Excellence award.

The CMA Foundation, a national music education nonprofit and the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, will hold its fourth-annual Music Teachers of Excellence Awards on April 30 in Nashville, and three-time CMA award winner winner Dierks Bentley will serve as host.

The invite-only event will honor Grossman and nine other music educators from districts across Tennessee, 10 from Metro-Nashville Public Schools and 10 from across the United States. Award recipients are selected because of their dedication to bring a high-quality music program to their students and the impact they’ve had on their school community through music.

Grossman applied for the award, which works much like a grant, in December. She described the application process as “extensive.”

“I’m very excited. [Mt. Juliet High School principal] Mrs. [Leigh Anne] Rainey came in to make the announcement, and they had to film the whole thing,” Grossman said. “I was waiting to hear, and when I saw them walk in, I said, ‘yes.’”

Grossman was selected in December as Tennessee’s representative on the School Band and Orchestra magazine’s national list of “50 Directors Who Make a Difference.” The list annually spotlights one outstanding music educator from each state. Honored directors were nominated by students, colleagues, band parents, administrators, friends and sometimes even the spouse of a director who’s witnessed their ongoing dedication on a regular basis. The magazine pored more than 880 nominations before it arrived at its latest final 50.

Grossman also founded and conducts the Cedar Creek Community Band, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year and includes more than 60 musicians who range in age from 15-60 and older.

Grossman received her bachelor’s degree in clarinet performance from the University of California Irvine in 1996 and later a teaching certificate from California State University in Fullerton, California and taught band and orchestra at the middle school level for seven years. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in conducting from Southern Oregon University’s American Band College. She moved to Mt. Juliet in 2005 and currently serves as assistant band director, orchestra director and assistant choir director at Mt. Juliet High School. Grossman is a 20-year veteran educator, and the orchestra program she started at Mt. Juliet has grown to more than 75 students enrolled each year.

To date, the CMA Foundation has invested more than $575,000 to ensure music teachers have the support and funding needed to create a thriving program within their school and community.

“These teachers have gone above and beyond in their classrooms to really bring music to life, and their commitment and determination has not gone unnoticed,” said Bentley. “As a parent, I have seen first-hand the importance of music in my children’s lives and its importance in school programs. Every child deserves the chance to feel the power of music and it’s not possible without supporting these teachers.”

Along with a night of celebration, the CMA Foundation will invest $2,500 into each teacher’s music program to help drive their commitment to high-quality music for all children forward. Additionally, each winner will receive a $2,500 gift to use however they’d like, and past winners used their award earnings for down payments, continuing education, to record their own music and more.

“For my program, I have some needs for some instrument upgrades, as well as some equipment. We want to replace and upgrade some things in our band room,” Grossman said. “For me, I play clarinet, and I want to get some new parts for that. I may travel some, but I will likely spend the money on my children.”

The CMA Foundation created its Music Teachers of Excellence program in 2016 to recognize those who have the greatest impact on their students, using music as a vehicle for change.

“Music education has proven to be an effective and invaluable tool for academic achievement and social development, yet we consistently hear that programs are not properly supported,” said Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation executive director. “Each year, when we recognize the tremendous group of music educators through our Music Teachers of Excellence program, it allows us to give back to those who have dedicated their lives to serving our next generation. These educators, who spend countless hours in the classroom, are helping to shape creative, collaborative, future leaders through the power of music.”

Bentley has more than 8.6 billion overall digital streams. He co-wrote 10 of the 13 tracks on his current album The Mountain , including his new single, “Living,” which follows two back-to-back No. 1s, “Woman, Amen” and “Burning Man.” The Mountain earned Bentley the highest debut sales of his career and became his seventh chart-topping album. He has amassed 18 career No. 1s, countless awards and more while also earning 14 Grammy nominations.

In addition to Grossman, the 2019 Music Teachers of Excellence Tennessee award recipients include: 

• Bryant Adler with Alcoa Intermediate School.

• Kathryn Affainie with Granbery Elementary School in Brentwood.

• Josephine Cappelletti with Coulter Grove Intermediate School in Maryville.

• Benjamin Easley with Nolensville High School.

• Carole Smith Grooms with Freedom Middle School in Franklin.

• John Hazlett with McGavock High School in Nashville.

• Michael Holland with Nolensville High School. 

• Trey Jacobs with Nashville School of the Arts.

• Kevin Jankowski with W.H. Oliver Middle School in Nashville.

• Robbin Johnston with Clarksville High School.

• Spencer Nesvick with Houston Middle School in Germantown.

• Denise Rives with Barksdale Elementary School in Clarksville.

• Matthew Taylor with Meigs Academic Magnet Middle School in Nashville.

• Alice Asako Walle with Waverly Belmont Elementary School in Nashville.

• Susan Waters with W.H. Oliver Middle School in Nashville.

• Anna Laura Williams with Siegel Middle School in Murfreesboro.

• Franklin Willis with Andrew Jackson Elementary School in Old Hickory.

• Frank Zimmerer with Antioch High School.

• Ben Zolkower with Hillwood High School in Nashville. 

The 2019 Music Teachers of Excellence national award recipients include: 

• Kevin Brawley with Torrence Creek Elementary School in Huntersville, North Carolina.

• Sheldon Frazier with North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

• Robyn Starks Holcomb with Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

• Jeff Horenstein with Meadowdale High School in Lynwood, Washington.

• Theresa Kennedy with Jamestown Middle School in Jamestown, North Carolina.

• Chris Maunu with Arvada West High School in Arvada, Colorado.

• Henry Miller with Sierra Vista Middle School in Irvine, California.

• Amy Rangel with Glendale High School in Glendale, California.

• Ashleigh Spatz with Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta.

• Brianne Turgeon with Springdale Park Elementary School in Atlanta.

Proceeds from CMA Fest, the four-day music festival held annually in Nashville, are used to power the CMA Foundation’s social impact and unique model of giving.