MSBOA's 2024 Teachers of the Year
Thursday, February 8, 2024
MSBOA's 2024 Teachers of the Year
On behalf of MSBOA we wanted to congratulate this year's Teachers of the Year! Each of these outstanding educators were recognized at this year's All-State performances at the 2024 MMC. They will also be recognized in their hometown communities at a public event of their choosing.
Kristin Blanchard: 2024 Teacher of the Year - Band
Kristin Blanchard grew up in Grand Blanc, MI and received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from Western Michigan University in 1996. She holds a Master’s Degree (2004) in Conducting & Education from The American Band College in Ashland, Oregon. She is in her 28th year of teaching band.
Ms. Blanchard began her teaching career in Edwardsburg, MI (1996) where she taught 5th Grade General Music, as well as Middle School & High School Band. After 2 years, Ms. Blanchard moved to the Detroit area to teach in Milford (Huron Valley Schools). She has been at Muir Middle School in Huron Valley Schools for the past 26 years. Her duties include 6th, 7th and 8th grade bands, and an 8th Grade Curricular Jazz Band, as well as an adaptive music class. Approximately 30% of the students at Muir are in band. Her students consistently participate in Solo & Ensemble festivals and have great success. The Muir Jazz Band performs at school events, as well as many community outreach events each spring. As a music educator, Ms. Blanchard puts an emphasis on having real world connections by inviting many guest conductors and composers to work with her students. She has had Tyler S. Grant and Brian Balmages as guest composers, twice. She commissioned a piece by Tyler S. Grant in 2018 (River Poem) and collaborated to fund the piece Ash & Stone, and then Mr. Grant came to Milford to conduct these works. She also participated in funding the piece (not) Alone, by Randall Standridge, in 2022. This year, she is commissioning a piece by Randall Standridge and he will be in Milford in March of 2024 for the March Musical Madness concert, to conduct the world premiere of this piece. Ms. Blanchard is looking ahead and has already contracted/commissioned Carol Brittin Chambers to compose a piece for Muir Middle School for the 2025-26 school year.
As the current conductor for the Civic Youth Ensemble Concert Band, Ms. Blanchard has been affiliated with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since June of 2022. She was a conductor at the DSO Honor Band Day in 2023, and is a sought after guest conductor and clinician for school groups and Honors Bands. Ms. Blanchard inducted into the American School Band Director Association in 2007.
Ms. Blanchard’s primary instruments are the flute and piccolo and she has been a member of the FCB for 18 years. She also performs with the Southeastern Michigan Wind Ensemble and has been a part of that ensemble since 2019. Ms. Blanchard has a small private lesson studio and enjoys teaching privately. Ms. Blanchard is active in MSBOA as an adjudicator Solo & Ensemble Festivals, as well as similar festivals throughout the state. Ms. Blanchard has held the office of VP of B&O, and she was active on the FIC Director Development Days committees. Her most impactful contribution is being the founder and chairperson for the District IV MSBOA Middle School Honors Band, which is in its 18th year. This festival has recently expanded to include two honor bands, allowing more students to participate. This year District IV is commissioning a piece for both groups from Michigan composer, Andrew David Perkins.
It was an honor for Ms. Blanchard to receive the Middle School Teacher of the Year award by Huron Valley Schools in 2014-15, and was then nominated for Oakland County Teacher of the Year that same year. She was recently named Band Director of the Year in 2023 for the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association in District IV. Ms. Blanchard is a Grammy Nominated Music Educator and is in Who’s Who Among American Teachers.
Carol Johnson: 2024 Teacher of the Year - Orchestra
Carol Johnson is Director of Orchestras at Jenison Junior High School, and has been teaching young string players in Michigan for the last 23 years. During her 21 year tenure in Jenison, the JPS Orchestra Program has doubled in size, and now includes almost 600 string players. Carol earned her Bachelors of Music (2000) and Masters of Music (2005) degrees from Michigan State University. She has been recognized for her large group string teaching methods at the elementary and junior high levels, and all three of her Junior High Orchestras consistently receive first division ratings at MSBOA Festivals. Her students perform at many community events, including an annual performance in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Symphony Holiday Pops Concert. Over the last two decades, Carol has helped mentor 24 student teachers from various colleges and universities, and her program is a frequent destination for visiting teachers and pre-intern teachers.
Carol is highly sought-after as a conductor, clinician, and coach at numerous schools, camps, and clinics around Michigan. She has spent many years serving as director of orchestras at MSBOA String Clinics, MASTA String Camps, and St. Cecelia Music Center’s Sinfonia Youth Orchestra. Carol is a frequent presenter at the Michigan Music Conference, and her 8th Grade Orchestra was the only middle school orchestra selected to perform at the conference in 2010. As a guest teacher, she has presented to string students at Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. Carol has served on the Executive Board of MSBOA District 10 as President, Past President, Chair of Middle School Honors Orchestra, and Chair of Medals and Plaques. Carol was selected as District Ten’s MSBOA Orchestra Teacher of the Year in 2010, 2014, and 2019. Carol was also selected as one of the three finalists for MSBOA’s State Teacher of the Year in 2014 and 2019, and one of three finalists for MASTA’s State Teacher of the Year in 2018.
In addition to teaching, Carol spends a great deal of time performing, composing, and arranging. As a violinist, she has performed with the MSU Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, and for the last nineteen years with the Signature String Quartet. Carol has always had a passion for creating music for her students to perform, and has also published educational works for young string orchestras through Alfred / Belwin Publications.