2022 James Madison University VMEA Music Awards

Dr. Gary K. Ritcher Outstanding Service in Music Education Award

mccashin-vmea-award.pngWe present this award to an individual who has provided outstanding leadership and service through:

  • Excellence in leadership in music education at the local, state, or national level
  • Recognized service to the JMU School of Music and its music education program

Robert McCashin, D.M.A., retired as Director of Orchestras and Professor of conducting at James Madison University in 2016. In this position, he served as music director/conductor for the JMU Symphony Orchestra, JMU Chamber Orchestra, and the select Camerata Strings, and taught orchestral conducting at the graduate level. He earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in violin performance from Louisiana State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Arizona. Prior to his position at James Madison University, Dr. McCashin served on the faculties of the University of Texas Arlington and Texas Wesleyan University. During his tenure in Texas, he performed with the Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth Opera Orchestra, Wichita Falls Symphony, Gallery String Quartet, and the University Piano Trio, and performed extensively as a freelance violinist throughout the North Texas region. He was the founding conductor of the Arlington Youth Symphony, served as conductor for the Trinity Symphony and the Arlington Opera Association, and associate conductor of the Youth Orchestras of Greater Fort Worth. In addition, he maintained a substantial private violin studio of students at all levels. 

He has publications through Wingert-Jones, FJH Music, and Tempo Press. His many compositions and arrangements are best sellers and editor's choice selections in the educational music arena. He is co-author of the popular New Directions for Strings and A Scale in Time, published by FJH Music. Through his guest conducting and visitations as a clinician and adjudicator, Dr. McCashin has used his pedagogical knowledge to aid young string players from elementary through the high school levels. His guest conducting appearances include regional level professional orchestras as well as district, region, and state honor orchestras. Dr. McCashin was the founding president of the College Orchestra Directors Association, has chaired the ASTA Merle Isaac National Composition competition, and served as a board member for the Virginia state ASTA organization. 

Outstanding Early Career Music Educator Award

miller-vmea-award.pngWe present this award to a JMU undergraduate or graduate music education alumnus or alumna in years three, four, or five of his or her teaching career and who exemplifies JMU's commitment to musicianship and pedagogy. Additional criteria include:

  • Effective, comprehensive, innovative teaching
  • Service to and emerging leadership in the profession of music education
  • Continuing relationship with and support of the music education program at JMU

Nicoletta Moss Miller is an educator known for her passionate energy and enthusiasm, commitment to inclusivity, and support of lifelong musicianship. Nicoletta is the music director of the Mandoleers, a mandolin-guitar community orchestra in Arlington, Virginia. She also conducts the adult community orchestra at Levine Music at Strathmore and leads a youth string ensemble in the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra's El Sistema-inspired Sympatico program. Nicoletta was recently awarded second place in The American Prize's national arts competition for her 2021 performance with the Athens Philharmonia (Greece). Previous engagements include positions with JMU Club Orchestra, JMU Spring String Thing, Greensboro Symphony OrKIDStra, Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program, Music Orchard, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Nicoletta received her Master of Music degree in conducting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Bachelor of Music degree in music education at James Madison University. 

Outstanding Music Educator Award

jackson-vmea-award.pngWe present this award to a JMU undergraduate or graduate music education alumnus or alumna who has taught for at least ten years and who exemplifies JMU's commitment to musicianship and pedagogy. Additional criteria include:

  • Excellence in music teaching, including the development of comprehensive, innovative programs and curricula
  • Service to and sustained leadership in the profession of music education
  • Continuing relationship with and support of the music education program at JMU

Kirkland Jackson was born in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from Woodside High School where Mr. John Hargis inspired him to major in music. At JMU, Kirk took pride in marching flute in the MRDs for two years with Emily Marek Oyan as his marching buddy. He began his career at Elkhardt-Thompson Middle School where he received Teacher of the Year. After nine years with Richmond City Public Schools, Kirk moved to Tuckahoe Middle School in Henrico County. At Tuckahoe, he consistently received Superior ratings at Assessment and received an REB award for educational excellence as well as Teacher of the Year. Kirkland Jackson was a passionate director who loved inspiring students in music every day. Unfortunately, he passed away from throat cancer in July 2022. He is survived by his wife, Maureen Jackson, an elementary music teacher and their two daughters, Elise and Corinne and will be truly missed. 

Dr. Alice M. Hammel Inclusion in Music Education Award

jacoby-vmea-award.pngThis award is named for Dr. Alice M. Hammel in honor of her rich and varied contributions to fostering inclusive music experiences through which all learners can be supported, challenged, and grow. The award is presented to individuals who consistently demonstrate commitment to supporting and facilitating music learning and music making among persons in often-marginalized populations through:

  • Developing adaptive, accommodative, and flexible pedagogical practices to support all persons
  • Pursuing scholarly inquity into issues of difference, diversity, and inclusion that positively impacts the lives of all persons
  • Engaging with and in music learning and making communities to advocate for accessible and meaningful musical experiences for and with all persons to create, perform, and respond to music

Kathleen Jacoby is the Director of Bands at Herndon High School in Fairfax County. She was recently named the Fairfax County Public Schools "Outstanding Secondary Teacher" for 2022. She is a Conn Selmer VIP, and a member of Phi Beta Mu and Women Band Directors International.

Kathleen is the Secretary of the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association serving her second term. Prior to that she was the chair and creator of the VBODA Inclusion Committee. Projects under her direction include solutions to diversity leadership, the creation of resources to districts to improve adjudicator hiring practices and addressing the inclusion of show bands in the state marching event. 

In conjunction with several other women, Kathleen launched the Virginia Band Director Toolkit in June 2018. The highlight of this is the adjudicator list that she crowdsourced from the Facebook group she launed in 2017 called "Virginia Band Directors are from Venus." These projects have led to the creation of formal mentorship programs for new teachers, a popular program that has been active since Fall 2018. 

Kathleen is an active adjudicator for both concert and marching VBODA assessments. She has worked hard to diversify clinician and adjudication panels in her own and surrounding districts.

Kathleen graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Music degree. While at JMU, she was a Drum Major of the Marching Royal Dukes and President of the JMU chapter of the Music Educator's National Conference. Under her leadership, the JMU chapter broke state membership records. From a pool of nearly two thousand other chapters, JMU CMENC won two out of three National Chapter of Excellence awards. Mrs. Jacoby was also an officer in the Eta Omicron chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi.

Outstanding Cooperating Teacher Award

may-vmea-award.pngWe present this award to an individual who has provided outstanding service as a cooperating teacher for JMU music student teachers through:

  • A sustained record of excellence in mentoring JMU music student teachers
  • A sustained record of interfacing and communicating with JMU student teaching supervisors
  • A model of excellence in classroom teaching, recognized at the local and/or state level

Nathan May grew up and currently resides in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia. He and his wife, Melodie, have two handsome boys (Noah & Grant) and a beautiful little girl (Chloe).

He is in his 18th year as a professional educator in the Fine Arts community. Having worked with Elementary, Middle, & High Schools he has worked to instill a love and appreciation for the Fine Arts in all ages. He has also been privileged to work with many student and practicum teachers over the years, giving them a platform to hone their skills and learn in a safe environment.

Music Educator/Director by day and Wedding DJ/Emcee on the side, his love for music and his voice are well-rehearsed, and he finds himself constantly using them to benefit others which in turn brings him great joy. He is also a member of a professional a cappella group known as Good Company where he and Melodie sing for the Shenandoah Valley community and beyond. 

Previous Award Winners

Outstanding Early Career Music Educator Alumni Award

  • Laura Lazarevich (2013)
  • John Mills (2014)
  • Anna Matijasic Hennessy (2015)
  • Ethan Murphy (2016)
  • Maggie Hagy (2017)

Outstanding Music Educator Alumni Award

  • Joy Anderson & Keith Taylor (2012)
  • Laura Mulligan Thomas (2013)
  • Wendy Whitford (2014)
  • Thomas Tutwiler (2015)
  • Polly Sibert (2016)
  • Jo Lynn DeGolia (2017)

College of Visual and Performing Arts Distinguished Alumni Award

  • Brian Balmages, Class of 1998 (2016)
  • James Moye, Class of 1996 (2017)

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