Wallkill choral teacher earns nomination

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 10/27/23

Wallkill Senior High School Choral Teacher Dawn Amthor has been named a semifinalist for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum.

Amthor joins a select …

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Wallkill choral teacher earns nomination


Wallkill Senior High School Choral Teacher Dawn Amthor has been named a semifinalist for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum.

Amthor joins a select group of 25 music teachers, from 25 cities across 17 states, who have been announced as semifinalists.

The Music Educator Award recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the music education field and demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. In total, more than 2,000 initial nominations were submitted from 50 states for this particular award.

For the nomination, students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans, and administrators are able to submit names. Teachers are also able to nominate themselves for the particular award. Amthor would like to thank her former student Shane Morris from the Class of 2007 for nominating her for the award.

Amthor has been a longtime resident of the area and attended Wallkill schools growing up. While at home, her family, parents Patricia and John Becker and sister Debi, enjoyed music and had music playing around them. Her father was a musician who played the accordion as a child. Today she continues to reside in the Wallkill area with her husband David Amthor Sr.

Amthor, a graduate of the Wallkill High School Class of 1991, pursued education at Ithaca College obtaining a bachelor’s degree in music education as a voice major. While she did play clarinet at school, she made the decision to focus on her vocal studies. Upon graduation from Ithaca, she attended the University of Hartford and got a masters degree in music education with a concentration in voice. Outside of her academic work, Amthor is also the choir director of the Reformed Church of Shawangunk.

Amthor said she is grateful to all the congratulations and messages sent to her upon the announcement of her placing and looks forward to what lies ahead in the next round. She adds that her sister Debi, who worked in the film, television and music industry, would have been proud of her for pursuing this award. Debi passed away in 2015 after a battle with kidney cancer.

“I’m just doing my best to take in all the congratulations. It’s been really amazing,” she said. “I just want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has supported me, all the way through my education, my teaching career, through my community activities, and my work with the state music organization, the New York State School Music of Educators and let everyone know that I will continue to do my best.”

During the pandemic, she recalled that it was hard to teach and that she and her students could not be together. For her, teaching her students online was more than just academic instruction, but rather the continued opportunity for students to interact with each other. Now that the students and teachers have since returned to the academic setting, Amthor and her students continue to move forward with preparations for performances, festivals and other competitions. Upcoming in November for Wallkill, the school district will be hosting the New York State School Music Association Area All State festival and other musical performances.

Amthor is in her 29th year teaching in the Wallkill district and she plans to remain for a few more years until her retirement.

“Teachers don’t get into education because they want to teach, they get into education because they want to help build students into being better people and people that are going to be contributors to their communities, and the groups and organizations that they go on to be part of and their families,” she said.

Additionally with the award, each year one recipient is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students’ lives. They will receive a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school’s music program. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants. The finalists will be announced in December and in January the winner of the award will be announced. The recipient will finally be recognized during Grammy Week 2024 in February.

The Music Educator Award program, including honorariums, is made possible by the generosity and support of The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation. In addition, the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, NAMM Foundation, and National Education Association support this program through outreach to their constituencies.

Wallkill Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle has had the privilege of knowing Amthor over the past 23 years and is grateful for her to be a part of the Wallkill school district staff and family. “I have never seen a choral performance that was below par. Every performance I’ve seen, again, very professional. The sound is incredible,” he said. “She is always there for her students. You can see when they perform along with one when she directs the love and passion that they have for music. This is a well deserved recognition for Dawn.”