Teacher of the Year 2019-2020

Each year MSBOA recognizes a Teacher of the Year for Band and a Teacher of the Year for Orchestra. The
process begins in the Spring with each of the MSBOA Districts nominating a candidate in each classification.
The Executive Board reviews all of the candidates and selects up to three in each area to submit to the entire
active membership. In this posting you will find statements about each candidate.

MSBOA congratulates each of these fine instrumental music educators for their nomination to this honor. 

Band Nominees

Andrea Mack

MSBOA District 1 is proud to select Andrea Mack, Manistee MS/HS, for our 2019-2020 Teacher of the year for
Band.

Andrea has served her students and communities as a music educator for 27 years. Andrea Mack received her
undergraduate degree from MSU in 1991. She has worked in Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan, and currently serves
as the Director of Bands at Manistee Public Schools. Andrea is dedicated to her students and to the Art of Music.

There are so many aspects to the band medium; her ensembles consistently receive superior ratings at Band Festival.
Her students perform solos and ensembles at the highest level at both the District and State level. Students from her
small, rural town often are placed in the All State Ensembles. While at Allegan, Mack took her bands to the MCBA
State Championships 11 times, finishing in the top 3 in 2014 and 2015.

In 2019, the Manistee High School Band presented an outstanding performance at the Michigan Music Conference.
Her musicianship and guidance to her students has provided them with an outstanding musical experience, and
Manistee has proven this at Festivals and the Michigan Music Conference. This serves as proof of the outstanding
teaching that is occurring in Andrea Mack's classroom.

Andrea has been a member of MSBOA throughout her career in Michigan and jumped right in when she joined
District 1 three years ago. She immediately stepped up to serve on our Executive Board as VP of Solo and
Ensemble, a position which she still currently holds, and has been host to several festivals each year and is active
throughout the organization. Her willingness to serve and support her peers is exceptional!

Melissa Marks

Melissa Marks is in her 24th year of teaching and is the Director of Bands at Onsted
Community Schools. She directs the High School Band, 7th & 8th Grade Bands, and the
6th Grade Beginning Band. In addition, she teaches choir and guitar classes.

Melissa began her career at Oxford Community Schools, directing the 6th Grade
Beginning Bands and assisting with the High School Band. After three years, she moved
to Oklahoma where she taught K-12 band and general music for six years. Her family
then returned to Michigan, and she taught for one year at Morenci Area Schools
before accepting her current position at Onsted.

During her teaching career, Melissa has taught all levels of band, all levels of choir, and
K-5 general music. She also started the guitar class at Onsted High School. Her bands at
Onsted consistently receive Superior ratings at Band Festival, and she has a large
number of students participate each year in Solo & Ensemble Festival.

Melissa has been an active member of MSBOA. She has been a representative on the
FIC Committee, and she has held the office of Vice-President of Middle School Solo &
Ensemble, Vice-President of High School Solo & Ensemble, and is currently finishing her
term as the District 8 President. She hosts the southern site of the District 8 High School
Solo & Ensemble Festival. She is also an adjudicator for Solo & Ensemble Festival.

Chris Traskal

Mr. Traskal's musicianship and service to his students have been on display in many venues
this school year:

  • In September, the Eisenhower Jazz Ensemble was one of 6 MSBOA groups to perform in the Detroit Jazz Festival.
  • In October, the Eisenhower Marching Band received a First Division rating at MSBOA District Marching Band Festival.
  • In January, the Eisenhower HS Wind Ensemble performed at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids.
  • In February, the Eisenhower Jazz Ensemble competed at CMU Jazz Weekend and were awarded 2 nd Overall Runner-Up in AA, First Runner-Up Section in AA, & Best Soloist in AA.
  • In March, the Eisenhower Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Bands each received straight first division ratings at MSBOA District Band Festival.
  • In March, the Eisenhower Jazz Ensemble received straight first division ratings at MSBOA State Jazz Festival.
  • In April the Eisenhower Wind Ensemble received straight first division ratings at MSBOA State Band and Orchestra Festival.
  • In May, three Eisenhower students performed with ensembles in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival ensembles. Chris does all of this while performing as a Jazz, Classical and Pop/Rock saxophonist throughout the Detroit area.

In addition, Chris takes time to serve our profession:

  • Mr. Traskal currently serves as the State Vice-President for Jazz Activities after having been President of District XVI for the 2016-2018 school years.
  • Chris is an active adjudicator for Solo & Ensemble and Jazz Festival.
  • Mr. Traskal is a sought after clinician for concert and jazz programs throughout the state.

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ORCHESTRA NOMINEES

Merlyn Beard

Merlyn D. Beard II has taught in Waterford Schools for the last twenty-five years sharing his passion for
music with students. Mr. Beard has taught at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, including the
alternative high school, in orchestra and other music classes. While he developed a music technology class and a
guitar class for high school students, orchestra has always been his love and passion. This year his schedule
returned to teaching orchestra all day with adding the position of Director of Orchestras for Waterford Mott High
School to the half day schedule of Director of Orchestras at Waterford Kettering High School. He is completing
his twentieth year at Waterford Kettering High School.

Under Mr. Beard, the Waterford Kettering Orchestra performed at the National Orchestra Festival
(ASTA) in 2008 and the Michigan Music Conference in 2009. The performances and festivals outside Michigan
- Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida (2003, 2007,2011,2015,2019), the Smoky Mountain Music Festival,
Music Showcase Festival (Williamsburg, VA -2004, Grand National Champions), Dixie Classic Grand National
Invitational Festival (Chattanooga, TN) - have become highlights of the student's orchestra experience at
Kettering.

Budget restrictions have changed Mr. Beard's teaching schedule to include guitar, piano and History of
RockIPop Music at other Waterford schools. This year the schedule changed so Mr. Beard would be the
Director of Orchestras at Waterford Kettering and Waterford Mott High Schools. Reconnecting with some of
his former middle school students, he has enjoyed the return to teaching a complete schedule of orchestra. The
orchestras show their growth at both schools through earning Division I and II Festival Ratings and
performances for the community.

Mr. Beard has served District 4 as the President (2016-2018), Treasurer (2008-2013) Vice-President of
Workers (2006-2008) and as State Festival Improvements Committee Chair (2013-2019).
He is also an active Adjudicator for MSBOA. Mr. Beard was the District IV Orchestra Teacher of the Year
in 2007 and a finalist for the MSBOA State Orchestra Teacher of the Year in 2008.

Carol Johnson

Carol Johnson is Director of Orchestras at Jenison Junior High School, and has been teaching young string
players in Michigan for the last twenty years. During her tenure in Jenison, the JPS Orchestra Program has
doubled in size, and now boasts well over 500 string players. Carol 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 mentored twenty-two 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 MMC, and her 8th Grade Orchestra was the only middle school orchestra selected to perform
at the conference in 2010.

Carol was selected as the District 10 MSBOA Orchestra Teacher of the Year in 2010 and 2014, and as one of
three finalists for MASTA's Teacher of the Year in 2019.

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 fifteen years with the Signature String Quartet. Carol has
always had a passion for creating music for her students to perform, and in 2007 began publishing her
educational works for young string orchestras through Alfred / Belwin Publications.

Heather Wickman

Heather earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Western Michigan University, master's in
educational leadership from Madonna University, and Master of Music from the University of
Michigan. She started her teaching career in Livonia Public Schools 26 years ago at Frost
Middle school and for the past eleven years has been the director of orchestra and bands at
Livonia Stevenson High School. At Stevenson Heather is responsible for teaching the grade 9-
12 string orchestra, 3 concert bands, music theory, and several extra-curricular ensembles.
Since Heather began teaching at Stevenson, the orchestra has more than doubled in size,
reflecting her dedication and impact on the student body.

Heather's influence extends beyond Stevenson High School. As a district teacher leader for
music, Heather worked with administration and music staff to reinstate the elementary
instrumental music curriculum in 1999. When Livonia Public Schools restructured the
district's grade configuration in the early 2000's, Heather again worked with stake holders to
ensure students had the opportunity to pursue instrumental music in fifth and sixth grades. As
district music teacher leader and now as the Stevenson Orchestra director, Heather organizes
the Livonia Public School's annual string concert, String Fling. This district wide concert
includes string students grades six through twelve and includes a clinic with a master string
clinician for the high school string students.

Outside the classroom, Heather has actively participated in MSBOA throughout her career.
Her performing ensembles have consistently received superior ratings at Michigan School
Band and Orchestra Festivals. In the past decade she has taken an active role on the District
12 executive board serving on the Festival Improvements Committee, as the secretary, and
currently as the Vice President of Band and Orchestra Festival. Heather continues to expand her
musical influence through student teacher mentorships and curriculum presentations. She has led
sessions on technology use in the music classroom and rhythm curriculum at state conferences.

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