Celebrating the 2020 Music Education Innovator Award Recipients in Nashville

In March 2020 we announced our largest group of 15 outstanding Music Education Innovator Award (MEIA) recipients with thanks to our Artist Ambassador Devon Gilfillian.

Learn about who they are and their programs HERE.

Logan Caywood, Cale Patton, Courtney Powers, Jordan Lee, David Milnes, Ashleigh Spatz, Suzanne Spencer, Nicholas Popovich, and David Greenbaum walk the red carpet at the CMA Foundation Music Teachers of Excellence banquet.

We made plans to celebrate them later that year with our annual gathering in Nashville, and well, we all know what happened. After rescheduling a couple of times, we managed to coordinate with our partners at the CMA Foundation for an in-person gathering and celebration.

On Oct 19, 2022, ten of the fifteen educators arrived in Nashville. Give A Note was honored to award their efforts and dedication to their students with a chance for them to connect with one another and share stories.

To be in the presence of such creative artistry, educators, musicians, and supporters of the musical arts in education was deeply inspiring and reassuring of the value of what we do every day. Thank you for the opportunity to be inspired and bring such new and exciting ideas back to my classroom.

Ryan William Mack, Music Educator & Ensemble Director

Ashleigh, Cale, Courtney, David G., David M., Jordan, Liesl, Logan, Nick, Rosa, Ryan, Suzanne, Thomas, Tiffany, and Zach are champions in their communities. Within their primarily Title I funded schools, they design non-traditional curriculum driven by the interests and cultural influences of their students.

During their time in Nashville, Give A Note provided them with the opportunity to both connect with one another and explore cultural museums to learn and return home inspired by the people they met and with a new understanding of something they could incorporate into their classrooms.

I am so happy to be a part of an incredible group of people that you brought together. It has made me reflect (and will continue to make me reflect) on my current practice & how I can address it all in different ways.

Logan Caywood, Vocal Music

The afternoon they arrived, we gathered at the Virgin Hotel Nashville with some surprise special guests: Devon Gilfillian, Craig King, and The BoykinZ, who also treated us to an acoustic performance.

2020 MEIA recipients with GAN board chair Ed James, Beth Slusher, Juliana Lee, and Special Guest Artists The BoykinZ, Devon Gilfillian, and Craig King.

This special moment gave us a chance to celebrate the MEIA recipients in a more intimate setting before we met up with our partners at the CMA Foundation (CMAF) for their Music Teachers of Excellence (MTOE) banquet. We are incredibly thankful for Tiffany Kerns, Falon Keith, and the CMAF team for inviting us to join them for this event. Our MEIA crew walked the red carpet, enjoyed host Kix Brooks, and united with other incredible music educators from across the country. The evening centered around music educators who persevere in spite of budget cuts, lack of administrative support, and misunderstanding about why music education should part of a well-rounded core curriculum model.

CMAF honored our MEIA recipients during the event with a dedicated moment of celebration and their names on the screens. It was a wonderful moment to acknowledge their efforts and accomplishments and for that we are so grateful!

Tiffany and CMAF also had another surprise. United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona took the stage and gave an impassioned speech about the importance of keeping music in our schools. He empowered the educators in the room. He holds influence at the federal level and can share the stories and impact from his time visiting a music classroom here in Nashville earlier this trip, thereby amplifying the voices of the educators who were able to meet with him.

CEO Beth Slusher, Ryan William Mack, Logan Caywood, Courtney Powers, Juliana Lee, Jordan Lee, Suzanne Spencer, David Milnes, David Greenbaum, Cale Patton, and Ashleigh Spatz

The next morning we met up for brunch and bowling – one last opportunity for us to celebrate them as a group, for them to connect and share stories from the classroom, and have some fun! Then we split off, depending on flight schedules, to explore Nashville with the chance to visit the historic Country Music Hall of Fame and the newly opened National Museum of African American Music.

“The enduring feature of Black music is neither protest nor self-expression it is communication, and one cannot imagine a time when Black musicians will have nothing to say, either to other or to God.” – Eileen Southern

It is our privilege and honor to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and continued effort of these amazing educators. If you are reading this, you have been part of making it happen and we hope you continue to do so.

Please donate today to ensure Give A Note can continue to honor the educators who help shape their communities through impactful music programs in school.

GAN Board Chair Ed James, Ashleigh Spatz, Suzanne Spencer, Jordan Lee, David Greenbaum, GAN Industry Ambassador Devon Gilfillian, Juliana Lee, Nicholas Popovich, Cale Patton, David Milnes, Logan Caywood, and GAN CEO Beth Slusher

Thank you again for the fun in Nashville and the tour. It really was an honor to participate in this.

Cale Patton, Elementary Music Educator

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