Little Big Town and the CMA honored local Metro Nashville educators as the CMA Music Teachers of Excellence Wednesday night (4/26) at a special ceremony at Nissan Stadium. More than a dozen artists were on hand to celebrate with the teachers, as well as CMA Board members, community leaders, and CMA Foundation beneficiary programs.
Twenty-five Metro Nashville Public School teachers were recognized during the ceremony, along with six recipients from other cities, who were acknowledged by the Give a Note Foundation’s “Music In Our Schools Tour” presented by Radio Disney. Each honoree receives a stipend from the CMA Foundation in recognition of their commitment and teaching excellence.
“These educators are building and inspiring a generation, equipping students with tools they will continue to use throughout their lives,” said Joe Galante, CMA Foundation Chairman.
In a special pre-event gathering, Little Big Town were surprised with an emotional reunion with their childhood music teachers Sarah Glover and Jim Walker of Alabama (Jimi Westbrook), Billy Jack Green of Georgia (Karen Fairchild), and Julia Lansford of Arkansas (Phillip Sweet). Earlene Rentz of Kentucky and Robert Ivey of Georgia, who taught Kimberly Schlapman, shared heartfelt video and written messages in their absence. Fairchild serves on the CMA Foundation Board of Directors.
Entertainers also shared videos of well-wishes throughout the evening, with Cam, Brad Paisley, Cassadee Pope, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band, and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” announcer Dicky Barrett and musical director Cleto Escobedo III all sending messages of support.
The City of Nashville also showed its support for the special event by lighting up downtown landmarks Ascend Amphitheater, Bridgestone Arena, Korean Veterans Boulevard Bridge, Omni Hotel, and the Westin Hotel in CMA blue lights.
“Music City is Music City because of the Country Music Association,” said Dr. Shawn Joseph, MNPS Director of Schools. “[The CMA Foundation] has set the bar high and established new standards for public/private partnerships between Metro Schools and business partners in Nashville and Davidson County.”
Now in its second year, the CMA Music Teachers of Excellence program honors music educators and their indelible impact on students and school communities. The program was created in partnership with Metro Schools’ “Music Makes Us” initiative, which was formed as a result of a 2015 study that highlighted the challenges of local music teachers.
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