A total of 216 music teachers from 199 cities have been announced as quarter-finalists for the 2021 Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum. One of those quarter-finalists just happens to be music teacher Christopher Toomey from Mineola High School.
Roughly 2,000 initial nominations were submitted. The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators 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. A joint partnership and presentation of the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum, the recipient will be recognized during Grammy Week 2021.
Each year, one recipient is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students’ lives. The eighth annual honoree will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 63rd annual Grammy Awards and a range of Grammy Week events. The nine other finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and schools of the finalists will get matching grants.
“When I first found out that I was a quarter-finalist, I felt so honored to be chosen as one of the few representatives from New York,” said Toomey, who submitted himself this past spring. “I also received a letter notifying me that I was a quarter-finalist with all of the criteria to be chosen as a semifinalist. In September, 25 semi-finalists will be chosen. The new step includes many essays, student testimonials and video recordings of myself teaching. I jumped right into the next application and hope to advance to the next step.”
Toomey is no stranger to winning awards. For the past two years, Mineola High School’s Marching Band placed first in their division at the New York State Field Band Conference State championship under the direction of Toomey.
“Our group truly does become a family,” Toomey said last year about his proudest moment of being the marching band’s coach. “Lifelong friends are made, students make career choices in the arts and our activity teaches them life lessons that will always stick with them.”
Toomey said what he loves most about music is the ability that it has to bond students together.
“In difficult times or in great times, students can share emotional connections through pieces of music that we learn, prepare and perform,” he said. “What I love most about the Mineola High School community is the mindset that all are welcome into the arts. If a high schooler wants to learn a new instrument for the first time, we will teach them. If a student wants a challenge, we are ready to help them rise to the occasion.”
Overall, Toomey said that the Mineola High School staff and community have been deeply supportive on this new endeavor.
“The staff at Mineola High School has been incredibly supportive about this potential award and some colleagues even helped draft some peer testimonial videos and letters to go to the Grammy committee,” he said.