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The Akron Symphony Orchestra recently announced Aurora City Schools orchestra teacher Jason Burdett is the recipient of the Akron Symphony Orchestra’s Music Educator of the Year Award for 2019.

Burdett, the middle school and high school orchestra director in the Aurora City School District, will be honored at the Akron Symphony’s performance of The Four Seasons on Nov. 16 at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized for this award,” said Burdett. “I grew up in the Akron area and was a member of the Akron Youth Orchestra as a student, and I understand the importance of having such a fine organization committed to music education. We are truly blessed to have so many talented musicians in the Akron Symphony who are willing to positively impact our communities.”

Hearing of the honor, Burdett thanked some of his “musical mentors,” including Marlene Moses, Cory Smith, Keith Holliday and Eric Benjamin, as well as Akron Symphony and Maestro Christopher Wilkins.

“The study of music helps students to collaborate, think analytically and creatively, develop grit, set goals and communicate effectively,” said Burdett. “If our students are going to succeed in the future, then music education needs to be part of their training.”


Burdett said Chrysa Kovach, a former student of his, nominated him for the award.


Dr. Paul Milcetich, Aurora High School principal, said he’s often left in awe of Burdett’s knack for tapping the potential of his orchestra students, as well as his ability to pinpoint, among an ensemble of 50, a single instrumentalist in need of help.


“One thing I like about Jason and his program is it differs from year to year, based on the kids he has and their talents,” said Milcetich. “Jason is very deserving of this honor. He’s certainly done a great job with the orchestra program. He really is just a master teacher. I’m just awed by how he’s able to work with all of those different students with all those different instruments.”


Burdett has been a member of the Aurora City School District for 20 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Kent State University in 1999, a master’s of education degree in measurement and assessment from Kent State in 2008, and a second master’s of education degree curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education in 2019.


His orchestras have earned “Superior” ratings from the Ohio Music Education Association and have performed internationally. He seeks to inspire students to become lifelong musicians by encouraging them to explore compose, improvise, and perform concertos with the orchestra, and well as study music history and world music. In addition to two traditional high school orchestras, Burdett leads a rock orchestra and several ensembles that perform for the community.


Outside of the classroom, he has played violin in the Cleveland and Akron areas for the past 20 years, including a concert at Playhouse Square with Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith, and as principal second of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Eric Benjamin. Burdett has also contributed his talents to three CDs, the latest with singer/songwriter Jessie Barr called “Along For the Ride,” which was released in 2014.


Burdett lives in Aurora with his wife, Katie, and his three daughters Ellie, Aubrey and Julia.


Burdett will receive the award from Music Director Christopher Wilkins on stage at the Nov. 16 concert. In addition, a $500 prize, sponsored by the Trillium Schools of Music, will be awarded to the Aurora City Schools music program in Burdett’s name.


The following finalists for the award will also be recognized at the concert: Sarah Behal, orchestra director for the Stow-Munroe Falls School District, and Joseph Licitri, a private piano instructor from Stow.

The Music Educator of the Year Award promotes a greater understanding of and appreciation for the value of music education in schools. The award honors those music teachers who make a real difference through their dedication and involvement to the stability and growth of music education in their communities.


The award is open to any certified/licensed music teacher in a public, private or parochial classroom setting in grades K-12. Nominees must teach in Cuyahoga, Medina, Portage, Stark or Summit counties.


Previous winners were Dustin Harris, Band Director at Cuyahoga Falls High School, and Steven Cocchiola, Orchestra Director at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.

Taken from the Record Courier article found here

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