Teachers vie for Grammy music educator honors

| Monday, June 10, 2013, 8:00 p.m.

For every performer who makes it to the Grammy stage, there is a teacher who played a critical role in getting them there, says the Grammy Foundation, sponsor of the annual music-excellence award.

Last fall, Jamie Eisner of McCandless heard the announcement during the Grammy Awards to nominate music teachers for the first ever “Grammy Music Educator of the Year” award.

“They asked, ‘Who brought you music?' All of my teachers are so talented, but people need to see what Mr. Goodman is capable of, so I nominated him. I am so excited for him,” says Jamie, a sophomore at Lincoln Park Arts Charter School in Midland, Beaver County. Her nomination was one of almost 30,000 received from all 50 states for kindergarten teachers through college professors.

Todd Goodman, resident composer at Lincoln Park, is one of the 217 quarter-round finalists, which includes eight teachers from Pennsylvania. Also honored from the local area are Kelly Winovich, choral director and music teacher at Northgate Junior and Senior High School in Bellevue, and Robert Traugh, former band director of Norwin High School. He declined the nomination since he recently accepted a new position.

At Lincoln Park, Goodman directs an annual show called Ensemble Immersion. It is written by the students and brings together students from all of the arts genres to create the show.

“He always empowers students to take ownership and gives occasions to rise to,” says Melissa Holman, music director. “They know that he is always willing to be there to help them in any way that he can.”

Goodman has been the resident composer at Lincoln Park since the charter school's opening in 2006. He studied trumpet performance and composition at the University of Colorado, the “Julliard of the West.” He's working on a doctorate in music — and an operatic version of “Night of the Living Dead.”

“Music teaches lifetime skills of how to work together as a team and how to creatively solve problems,” Goodman says. “Teaching was an instant connection. I realized I could help others along this path, too.”

Winovich has been the choral director at Northgate for 14 years. Some of her former students have gone on to Broadway. Her nominator has chosen to remain anonymous.

Her quality performances that bring the community together is her trademark, says Joseph Pasquerilla, Northgate superintendent.

“Not only does she pack the house here, but she reaches out, and takes her show to the community and personal-care homes,” he says. “I get so many emails, phone calls, and people just saying how much they appreciate her.”

A musical family inspired Winovich. She studied flute, piano and voice as an undergraduate and graduate music education student at Duquesne University. She credits her first music teacher.

“Thinking of my piano teacher, Patricia Pavlac, almost makes me cry,” Winovich says. “She took me to conferences and taught me that if you put the time in, it makes a difference.”

Ten finalists will be recognized — nine will receive $1,000 awards and one teacher will be flown to the Grammy Awards ceremony. Justin Timberlake and Ryan Seacrest will present the music educator with a $10,000 honorarium.

For the final round, Goodman and Winovich wrote personal essays and submitted YouTube videos with 4-minute unedited teaching sessions and 6 minutes of testimonials from students, alumni, faculty, administrators and parents.

Northgate parent Patty Fiorenzo told of when her daughter, Sarah Hopkins, was a finalist for the Kean Quest Talent Search, Winovich cancelled a trip to New York City with her mother to be there to accompany Sarah's vocal solo.

“It is so wonderful to be able to tell the world about a teacher who has such passion for what she does, and especially for the students,” she said.

The semifinalists will be announced in August. The 2014 Grammy Awards will be held Jan. 26.

Jane Miller is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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