The 2018 Music Education Innovator Award recipients are:

  • Ethan Chessin, Camas High School, Camas, Washington: “The Business of Music.”
  • Ginny Coleman, Tuscaloosa County High School, Northport, Alabama: “All Together Now: Including Children with Severe Disabilities in Choir.”
  • Brian Gallagher, Ramona High School, Riverside, California: “Mariachi de la dinastía Ramona.”
  • Chris Gemkow, York Community High School, Elmhurst, Illinois: “Music Production Program and the York Album Project.”
  • Warren Mize, East Central High School, San Antonio, Texas: “Music Business and Industries Two-Year Course.”

Read more about each of these music programs.

One music educator from each grant recipient school will be honored at the 2018 CMA Music Teachers of Excellence Dinner in Nashville, TN, on May 8, 2018, and will present on their school’s program to attendees at the 2018 NAfME National Conference in Dallas, TX, on November 11-14, 2018 (all-expense paid).


As stated above, the purpose of this funding cycle is to identify school music programs led by creative music educators utilizing innovative and sustainable strategies in non-traditional or traditional secondary music courses that attract students not typically enrolled in music education courses, in efforts to increase access to music education through diversity in curriculum and approach. Awards will be granted to schools with programs that have significant potential for utilizing $4,000 grants to build upon programmatic successes to date, in efforts to create lasting change in a school or district.

  • “Innovative,” in this context, means reflecting an instructional and/or organizational approach to music instruction that is new for the school system in which the program is to be instituted. That is, a program could be considered innovative if it takes lessons learned from a different school or school district and applies that idea in a new context – for example, the context of an urban as opposed to suburban district, to a different grade level, or to a set of students not formerly served by the approach.
  • “Sustainable,” in this case, means reflecting a high likelihood that the applicant will be able to use the support offered to put in place an innovative program that survives the grant period, thus bringing lasting change to the school and to the student population served.

For questions regarding the Music Education Innovator Award, please contact Ashley Wales at