The top three percent – that’s where Pueblo West High School band director Patrick Smith has landed in the competition for the 2014 Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.
Smith is one of 222 quarterfinalists named nationwide. In total, there were more than 7,000 completed applications for the award, putting Smith into an elite category.
“I’m very humbled by the whole thing,” Smith said.
“Once I became aware of the numbers, to be one out of 222 in a pool of 7,000 – that’s some cool stuff.”
The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators from kindergarten through college who have made “a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”
Through a joint partnership between The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, the award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony during GRAMMY Week 2015.
The award was open to current U.S. music teachers, and anyone – students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members and administrators included – could nominate a teacher. Nominated teachers were notified to fill out an application.
Two of Smith’s students – Jake Henderson and Delton Bartell, who will both be seniors – nominated Smith.
He talked about the great relationships he has with his students and said he was honored they would consider him for this award.
“This is something kind of hard for me, because I’m uncomfortable with this kind of recognition,” admitted Smith, whose quiet, laid-back manner makes him an extremely popular and effective music teacher.
“But to see how excited Delton and Jake and all the kids are is pretty cool.”
The pool of 222 quarterfinalists – which includes four from Colorado – will be eventually narrowed to 10 finalists.
The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony during GRAMMY Week and will receive a $10,000 honorarium.
The other nine finalists will each receive $1,000, and all 10 of those schools receive matching grants.
Initial applications included several questions that gave teachers who use different modalities and teaching philosophies the opportunity to shine.
Quarterfinalists were asked to submit additional materials in video and essay form, including testimonials from others like students and administration.
Pueblo West High School Principal Martha Nogare said she is so proud of Smith for making the quarterfinal cut for this award.
“Having known Patrick for the past 17 years, I can attest that he truly is very deserving of this award,” she said.
“Patrick is an accomplished musician. He brings this energy and love of music into his classroom. He is passionate about the role of music in student’s lives.
“I also know that all it takes is for someone to listen and to observe first hand the high quality of performances that he is behind to know that he is genuinely deserving of such an honor,” Nogare wrote in a letter to the award selection committee.
Smith said he feels that being named a quarterfinalist helps reflect well on Pueblo West High School and all of Southern Colorado.
“Sometimes people seem to think that Colorado stops in Colorado Springs. They forget about us here. This is good for Southern Colorado,” Smith said.
The semifinalists will be announced in September. Other Colorado quarterfinalists were Ryan Crabtree from Fruita Monument High School, Shawna Mendez from The Manning School in Golden, and Andrea Meyers from Douglas County High School in Castle Rock.
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