Dustin Harris named ASO Music Educator of the Year

The Akron Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce that Dustin Harris is the recipient of the Akron Symphony Orchestra’s Music Educator of the Year Award for 2018.

Harris, the Band Director at Cuyahoga Falls High School, will be honored at the Akron Symphony’s Verdi and Valkyries performance at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall on Nov. 16.

“I am grateful for the support of our community, and feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to share my love of music with the students of Cuyahoga Falls,” Harris said of the recognition.

Harris is currently entering his 16th year of teaching for Cuyahoga Falls City Schools. His primary duties include directing the Symphonic Band, Tiger Marching Band, Pit Orchestra, Pep Band, and co-directing the Gold Concert Band. In addition to his high school duties, Harris is the primary brass instructor for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands at both Bolich and Roberts Middle Schools.  

Prior to coming to Cuyahoga Falls, Harris was director of bands at North Middle School in Grants Pass, Ore., for three years. His educational credentials include a master’s degree in tuba performance from Michigan State University, a bachelor’s degree in tuba performance from The University of Akron, and a bachelor’s degree in education from Montana State University. 

Dustin is a graduate of the U.S. Army School of Music in Norfolk, Va., and has served in the 5th Army Band in San Antonio, Texas.

“As a young musician, (Mr. Harris) constantly challenged me out of complacency and pushed me to perfect every detail. He was a consistent role model of modesty and thoughtful self-critique, and he held his students to the same exacting standards that he had for himself.” – James Lang, former student

Dustin was credited by one of his nominators for instilling “a love of music in students from the time they play their first notes throughout their high school band careers and beyond. His meticulous nature, combined with a drive to teach not just mechanics but also musicianship, is why young musicians flourish under his direction. The lessons he imparts help his students grow as musicians and as people.”

Harris will receive the award from Music Director Christopher Wilkins on Nov. 16 at E. J. Thomas Hall. In addition, a $500 prize, sponsored by the Trillium Schools of Music, will be awarded to the Cuyahoga Falls High School music program in Harris’ name.

The following finalists for the award will also be recognized at the concert:

  • Amy Barlowe Bodman, a private violin instructor, and co-founder and director of Akron Baroque
  • David Banks, Walsh Jesuit High School, Chair of the Performing & Fine Arts Department
  • Jennifer Morris, Seton Catholic School, Elementary & Middle School Music Teacher/Choir Director

The Music Educator of the Year Award promotes a greater understanding of and appreciation for the value of music education in schools. The award honors those music teachers who make a real difference through their dedication and involvement to the stability and growth of music education in their communities.

The award is open to any certified/licensed music teacher in a public, private or parochial classroom setting in Grades K-12. Nominees must teach in Cuyahoga, Medina, Portage, Stark or Summit counties.

Verdi and Valkyries on November 16

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