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Camelback band director up for a Grammy for music education


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  • Craig Pletenik/Phoenix Union High School District

Jamie Johnston

Camelback High School Band Director Jamie Johnston has been selected as a Grammy Music Educator Award quarterfinalist, one of only two from Arizona among the 7,000 nominees.

The award, now in its second year, is open to current U.S. music teachers from kindergarten through college, in public and private schools.

Camelback band director up for a Grammy for music education JamieJohnstonHP

Camelback Band Director Jamie Johnston has been selected as a Grammy Music Educator Award quarterfinalist, one of only two from Arizona among the 7,000 nominees. Photo courtesy Phoenix Union High School District

There are 222 Quarterfinalists representing 208 cities and 41 states.  Semifinalists will be announced in September and ten finalists will be notified in December from which one Music Educator of the Year will be selected and honored at the 2015 GRAMMY Awards, January 26.  The winner will receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants.

Johnston is in her ninth year with Phoenix Union High School District and entering her second year at Camelback after a successful stint at Central High.  She built the Bobcat Band from 17 members to over 60 members, created a jazz band, formed several quartets that performed in the community, and the marching band performed at numerous parades, and special events.   She coordinated the annual Greater Phoenix Orchestra Music Festival and trained new music teachers to the District for the last three years.

At Camelback, Johnston increased band enrollment from 20 to 45 in one year, and has 75 members this year thanks to a summer school band program.  Under her watch, she more than doubled enrollment in guitar classes and the music department was able to add another teacher.  A new class she started this fall called “Creating Music through Technology” is attracting more music students and she has turned last year’s volunteer jazz band into a Jazz class this year.  Her Camelback students nominated her for the GRAMMY Award.

An accomplished saxophone player, Johnston has played in the Mesa Community College Community Concert Band for 10 years as the principal saxophonist, and has performed in the pit orchestra as a woodwind player for several MCC musicals.  She is also a clinician for the Phoenix Youth Orchestra.

Johnston attended Arcadia High School, and coincidently, her band teacher, Richard Maxwell, is the other Arizona GRAMMY quarterfinalist.  She was the first Music Education graduate at Ottawa University in 2006 after the school joined forces with the Mesa Community College music department to offer a BA degree with an emphasis in instrumental music.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K – college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.