School of Music Alumnus Earns Outstanding Young Educator Award
The Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA) has recognized School of Music alumna Brittany von Stein (BME 2015), choir director at Basalt High School and Basalt Middle School, with the 2018 Outstanding Young Educator Award.
This prestigious honor is given annually to music educators in their first five years of teaching who have shown significant proficiency in the classroom and respect in their school community, according to the CMEA. The award recognizes notable commitment to the art of teaching as well as a demonstrated ability to achieve excellence.
Von Stein has served as the BHS/BMS choir director for two years, after having graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and minors in Vocal Performance and Theatre. Under her tutelage, participation in the choirs in Basalt Middle School and Basalt High School has nearly tripled—from 80 choir students in 2015–2016 to at least 210 in 2017–2018.
“The meteoric growth in choir participation is the direct result of Brittany’s incredible warmth and generosity of spirit,” said Basalt High School Principal Peter Mueller. “She is not only a technically talented music educator, but she exemplifies the drive and heart that inspire students to discover and sustain their passion for music as well as develop a sense of belonging within their community and love of themselves.”
Added Basalt Middle School Principal Jennifer Ellsperman, “Every choir concert I have attended since Brittany began has moved me to tears because of the important message students are learning through their experiences with Brittany. Themes like compassion and perseverance shine through every concert. What also shines through is her infectious enthusiasm, her commitment, and her strong relationships with students. This combination is exceedingly rare for a young, second-year teacher.”
The application process for earning the award is involved, requiring a detailed nominator letter of support addressing exemplary efforts and accomplishments in the classroom as well as at least two additional letters of support from the community.
In all, 24 community members—including students, parents, school administrators and teachers—provided letters of recommendation and testimonials for the nomination packet, detailing Ms. von Stein’s enthusiastic teaching ability, passion for music, and personable and patient nature. These are just a few quotes from the heartfelt submissions:
- In 8th grade I joined choir just for the fun of it. However, Ms. von Stein opened up the world of music and singing to me, and it changed my life. Now, in Chamber Choir, she pushes me every day to be the best I can be. Because of Ms. von Stein, I plan to continue with my passion for singing throughout high school and the years to come. — BHS rising sophomore
- This year has been really hard for me, and having choir, where I can come and forget the world and just sing it out, has been so great. Ms. von Stein deserves this award because she is hard-working and will never give up on us. — BHS rising sophomore
- My daughter’s love of singing and her ability has grown under the direction of Brittany. There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t share an experience she has in choir class. It isn’t just a class, but a refuge from the stresses of teenage life. Singing and being a part of the class has enabled my daughter to stretch out of her comfort zone. She is challenged, yet embraced, in a safe environment. — BHS Parent
- Ms. von Stein always makes class fun and exciting, and she can be serious when needed. She makes sure that kids respect her without taking advantage of her kindness. She sees the potential in everyone and never says you can’t do something. — BMS 8th-grade graduate
The CMEA award letter noted: "This tribute is a public acknowledgement of her quality instruction, belief in kids and love for music education. It is also a testament to the positive influence she has on those around her."
Von Stein will receive a plaque and recognition at the annual CMEA conference on January 25, 2018 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
The Ohio State School of Music reached out to Brittany to congratulate her on this high achievement so early in her teaching career. In response, she shared:
The decision to attend The Ohio State University School of Music has provided me with countless opportunities as a student, and now, as an alum. Dr. Andrea Ramsey (Ohio State School of Music faculty, 2013–2014) moved to CU Boulder and caught wind of a job she knew I would love. Through my relationship with her, I was recommended for the job and when they heard of my Ohio State School of Music education, a fellow Buckeye on the interview panel said it was a no-brainer. I am constantly amazed at how well the School of Music prepared me for teaching. Not only through the education I received, but the friends and colleagues I continue to connect with, and above all, the mentorship I have received, especially through Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Kristina MacMullen. The people and the experiences at OSU have beyond prepared me and supported me for a successful career. I feel so honored to receive an award in an often-thankless profession. I am humbled to accept this on behalf of my colleagues, mentors and friends, who received the same stellar education as I did, and who continue to change lives every single day.