Music Educator Awards

Annual CSO Music Educator Awards

Music Educator Awards

April 6, 2019

Presented by American Electric Power
Sponsored by Kim & Judith Swanson

Established in 1997, the Columbus Symphony’s Music Educator Awards recognize those individuals who instill and inspire a love of music in the children and adults of central Ohio. The purpose of these annual awards is to promote a greater understanding of and appreciation for music education, as well as to honor those individuals who are making a real difference in our community through their dedication to music education. One award is honored in each of the following categories:

Elementary Music Educator          Secondary Music Educator           Community Music Educator

Each Music Educator Award winner receives a monetary grant to be spent at their direction for a broad range of music education endeavors, such as purchasing music, instrument repair, or professional development classes for the educator. For additional information, please call (614) 221-4916. The 2019 nomination process will begin late fall 2018. 

2018 Music Educator Award Winners:

The 2018 Music Educator Awards were presented at the annual dinner fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel on Saturday, March 17. Columbus Symphony musician Steven Wedell  acted as emcee for the event. The winners were also presented on the stage of the Ohio Theatre preceding the Columbus Symphony concert. The Music Educator Awards are made possible through the generous support of  American Electric Power and Kim & Judith Swanson.

Additional 2018 nominees for this award are listed below. To see a list of past award recipients, click here. 

Costantino Benedetti | Elementary Educator
General Music Teacher
Tremont ES
Upper Arlington City Schools
Costantino Benedetti grew up surrounded by music. At an early age, his parents established it as a central aspect of his life. He woke up most Saturdays to the sound of Italian opera throughout his home and was taken to countless concerts at the Ohio and Palace Theatres. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from The Ohio State University and has been teaching at Tremont School for three years where he also co-leads a guitar program, a ukulele club and a songwriting club.
John Laswell | Secondary Educator
Director of Bands
Westerville South HS
Westerville City Schools
John Laswell has taught instrumental music for the past nine years, five at Westerville South HS. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Ohio Northern University and his Masters of Music in Music Education from Kent State University. John currently instructs the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Marching Band. John performs in the Westerville Concert Band, a community band of over 80 local musicians who perform throughout central Ohio. He lives in Hilliard with his wife Emily, their newborn daughter Rylee, and their four-year old beagle, Cooper.
Kathy Larkins | Community Educator
Columbus Chorus
Sweet Adelines International

Kathy Larkins began her musical life with childhood piano lessons and continued with choir, swing choir and marching band at Upper Arlington HS. She attended Capital University and graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree, majoring in pipe organ with a voice minor. Kathy has been a member of Columbus Chorus since 1985, serving in many capacities and becoming the director in 2011. Kathy operates Ducks in a Row, a local business helping homeowners transform their spaces. Kathy and her wife, Kim, also a ‘barber shopper’, call the Village of Shawnee Hills home.

Other nominees included 

  • Karla Cherwinski, Canal Winchester Schools
  • William Giacomelli, Hilliard City Schools
  • Angel Hillyard, West Jefferson Schools
  • Kara Johansen, Worthington City Schools
  • Debra Keller-Perry, Columbus City Schools
  • Becky Ogden, Columbus Montessori Education Center
  • James Becker, The Wellington School
  • Lynette Burris, Pleasant Local Schools
  • Ann Johnson, Whitehall-Yearling HS
  • Josh Reynolds, Columbus City Schools
  • Keith Watson, River View Local Schools
  • Catherine Willis, founder of the Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra
Who should be nominated for CSO Music Educator awards?

Nominees should be Music Educators in the Central Ohio region who:

  • Make a lasting difference in the lives of students of all abilities and backgrounds.
  • Routinely go "above and beyond the call of duty by extending efforts beyond the classroom.
  • Make a significant impact on their community through music education.
  • Instill a life-long appreciation of music in their students.
  • Inspire students to reach appropriately high levels of musical understanding and ability.
  • Demonstrate longevity in the field of music education by their many years of work.