Music Educator of the Year Award

Each year, the Oregon Symphony in Salem honors a music teacher as Music Educator of the Year. The process begins with the nomination of candidates from any area of public classroom music education in the Salem-Keizer School District, including orchestra, band, and choir. The director of music for the Salem Keizer Schools makes the nominations, with possible additions from a committee of Oregon Symphony in Salem board members. Once the list is set, the committee members observe the teachers in their classroom setting, concerts, or other venues, then select the winner(s).

At the season’s final Oregon Symphony in Salem concert, the Music Educator of the Year is introduced to the audience and given a plaque, which is accompanied by a financial award to be used by the recipient’s school.


21/22 Award Recipient: Jaimie Hall

After a two-year hiatus, Jaimie Hall was selected as the 2021/22 Salem-Keizer School District Music Educator of the Year award winner. Jaimie serves as the Director of Bands for Straub Middle School, Chapman Hill Elementary, and Kalapuya Elementary, and teaches band at Straub.

This year’s award selection committee included Toni Skelton, independent music educator and Salem-Keizer Schools representative, and three members from the Oregon Symphony in Salem Advisory Committee: Lane Shetterly, attorney; Dr. Crystal Zimmerman, professor of music at Willamette University, and Justin Thorp, attorney.

According to Lane, when Jaimie’s classroom had to switch to remote learning due to the pandemic, he made sure to keep up with his students, and continued encouraging them to learn and grow. Jaimie’s love for teaching is evident in his classrooms – his students don’t just play instruments, they make music together, producing technical ability and musicality beyond their years. Lane added, “To be able to lead these young people to such a relationship with music at their ages and in these challenging times is truly an outstanding accomplishment and merits special recognition.”

The other nominees for the 2021/2022 season were Julie Rundquist of Claggett Creek area strings and Damián Berdakín of South Salem High School.

The committee thought all candidates were equally deserving, and that the decision was difficult to make. Lane said, “It's never easy to select an award winner among the nominees…This year was no exception. Both Damián and Julie demonstrated a passion for music and for instilling that passion in their students.”

In the end, when asked why the committee selected Jaimie as this year’s award recipient, Toni stated, “As a middle school band director, Jaimie Hall not only succeeds at developing outstanding musicians but embraces the qualities of this age group that many would find daunting. Jaimie’s sense of humor along with his commitment to creating fine human beings creates a safe place for these pre-teenagers to learn and grow.”

After receiving the award, Jaimie expressed, “I am truly honored. There are so many folks who give their lives to this profession…I brought the plaque into school to share with my students. I told them it’s our award, as we are all a part of this.”

Jaimie was presented with the award on stage at the Salem season finale concert on May 20, 2022. Damián and Julie were also recognized. All nominees received an honorarium to benefit their schools’ music programs in recognition of their impact on music education in the community. 

Past Music Educator of the Year Award Winners

2019/20: Ariana Recher, music director at Wright Elementary in Salem-Keizer School District

2018/19: Jim Charnholm, orchestra, McKay High School; Kimberly McConnell, choir, West Salem High School

2017/18: Karly Schindler, general music, Chávez Elementary School

2016/17: George Thomson, West Salem High; Dr. David Brown, Sprague High; and Andy Thomas, Whiteaker Middle School

2015/16: Anisa Rodriguez Foroughi, general music, Four Corners Elementary

2014/15: Rebecca Couch, choir director, Walker Middle School

2013/14: Steve Phillips, general music, Auburn Elementary School

2012/13: Todd Zibelman, symphony orchestra and band director, West Salem High School

2011/12: Tiffany Gaither, general music, Schirle Elementary

2010/11: Carol Stenson, choir director, South Salem High School

2009/10: Jim Taylor, choir director, McNary High School

2008/09: Ike Nail, band director, West Salem High School

2007/08: Bonnie Gallagher, orchestra director, Whiteaker Middle School

2006/07: Holly Albertson, general music, Gubser Elementary; and Rosalie Karalekas, general music, Rosedale and Liberty Elementary Schools

2005/06: Stephen A. Nelson, orchestra director, Sprague High School

2004/05: Paul J. Mayhew, choir director, McNary High School

2003/04: Janet Romine, general music, Faye Wright Elementary; and Russ Christensen, choir director, Sprague High School 

2002/03: Mary Lou Boderman, band director, South Salem High School

2000/01: Richard Dalzell, choir director, North Salem High School 

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