Posts Tagged ‘Maine Music Educator of the Year’


Honoring Marisa Weinstein

June 1, 2013

Music Educator of the Year

I attended the annual banquet at the Maine Music Educator’s Association All-State conference at USM and was delighted to watch and listen as educators were recognized for their contributions to music education in Maine.

IMG_3341Visual and Performing Arts Department Head at Maine Central Institute, Dean K. Neal, nominated his colleague Marisa Weinstein for the Maine Music Educator of the Year. She was honored at the banquet along with others. Below is a segment of the nomination papers that Dean submitted. They are re-printed below with Dean’s permission.

Congratulations Marisa!

I have had the privilege of being a teaching colleague of Marisa’s for 23 years. This is her 24th year of teaching at Warsaw Middle School in Pittsfield where she currently teaches general music, beginning band, intermediate band, concert band (7/8 grade), 5/6 grade chorus, 7/8 grade chorus, jazz band 1 and jazz band 2.

As examples of Marisa’s interest in the total music education of the students of MSAD #53 I will begin with her saving a choral program that was in desperate need. The choral program of Warsaw Middle School was superb for the first half of Marisa’s tenure. Marisa’s area of concentration is instrumental music and she was not the choral educator during this time. The program then encountered changes in staffing for a period of three to four years. It was in this time that the choral program suffered greatly. As administration sought solutions Marisa offered that she would restructure her schedule to absorb teaching the 5/6 and 7/8 Choirs. Marisa whole heartedly applied herself by studying choral education literature, consulting with other choral educators and doing all she could to prepare herself to meet the needs of the choral students. In the several years since, she has taken the 7/8 chorus from being a group of 8-10 students that struggled to sing two part pieces, to an ensemble of 50-60 students performing three part literature. The choral students of Warsaw Middle School are now represented in a strong way in the regional auditioned honors festival. Throughout this process, she has somehow managed to maintain all of the performing ensembles she was teaching prior to taking on the choral curriculum and keep the education and performance levels to high standards of excellence.  

Marisa’s interest in the total program is not limited to the students of Warsaw Middle School though. She continues to follow them into the secondary level by consistently attending school concerts and events. More impressive is the fact that it is common for her to take the time to travel across the state or even out of state to see these students perform in festivals or at an event such as the Berklee Jazz Festival.  

Marisa has continually sought to better herself as an educator and performer by enrolling in workshops, masterclasses and performing ensembles. Last year she was one of a handful of Maine music educators selected to conduct for a nationally recognized conductor in a masterclass setting. Over her tenure she has consistently performed with numerous community and professional organizations throughout the state. She clearly understands the connection between the art and craft of making music and delivering that to youth through education.  

The respect afforded Marisa by fellow educators is evident through the many invitations to conduct regional honors festivals.  It is possible that she has guest conducted in every MMEA district but I know for certain she has guest conducted in Districts 3,4,5,6, and 7.  Her presence in MMEA has been felt more than through her conducting though.  Marisa has also been at the forefront of leadership by holding positions as District Chair, District Manager, Festival Host, (KVMEA President, Manager, Auditions Host as well.)

I must also mention that Marisa’s love and care for the school community go far beyond the music program.  During her time at Warsaw she has been Yearbook editor and advisor, served on committees and currently serves as 7/8 grade girls soccer head coach, 7/8 grade girls basketball head coach and 7/8 grade softball head coach.  It seems her commitment to the students of MSAD #53 and MCI knows no bounds.  Her passion for education and her love for music combine to make her one of the finest educators I have witnessed in my career.  I am proud to teach with her in our school system and believe her to fit in every way the honor of “MMEA Educator of the Year”.


Steve Orlofsky Honored

June 4, 2012

Maine Music Educators Association

I know that some of you attended the Thursday night banquet at the Maine Music Educators Conference this past month at UMaine when Steve Orlofsky was surprised. No, I would say Steve was more than surprised, shocked is a better word to describe it! Head of School from George Stevens Academy, Paul Perkinson, presented the MMEA award to Steve before a room of his peers on May 17th.

The presentation included the following sentiments from a student of Steve’s:

“Never have I seen a man so infused with energy, so passionate about music, and so in tune with his students as Steve Orlofsky, the music director at George Stevens Academy. The man is a veritable force of nature, fueled by a vat of coffee, constantly moving. I am fairly certain he could win a trophy at a speed walking competition.

And I am totally certain that he could win a trophy at a music competition. He has done it before. Multiple times, actually. In my three years at GSA, I can not remember one in which a GSA musical group did not win first place at the District or State Jazz Fest, and the trophies and banners speak for the years before me. If it were possible to win trophies fro playing at basketball games, those would be won as well. I have head referees who claim to have heard dozens of school bands while refereeing across the state, and they all say that the GSA Band are the best. And we are the best, thanks to Mr. O.

We all know the iconic image of him counting off, and then becoming distracted by somethinghe wants to tell us and forgetting his conducting hand, so that he will be telling us something, and his baton will still be unconsciously counting out a steady beat. We always have a good laugh when it happens. We learn many things in band besides music, such as how to avoid a moose on the side of the road, how to find the best dog at a kennel (Mr. O keeps us up to date with the cutest dogs at the local animal shelter), what to buy your wife on Valentine’s Day, and much more. And he always tells us stories. When he was 10 years old, his teacher asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, and he said, “I want to be a high school band teacher.” The teacher had looked at him as if he were crazy, but he stuck to his dream, and here it is, years later, doing the thing he has wanted to do since he was a kid.

I have improved in my skills on the drum set, the piano, and in my general undersatnding of music and its flow while with Mr. O, and I’ve had fun the entire time. I’ve played stuff from the Rolling Stones to Duke Ellington and everything in between. I think it was best put into words a while by Aaron, my fellow percussionist in the school band. The subjet of classes came up, and I asked him which one he liked the most. He said, “Dude! Band!”.


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