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Music Teacher of the Year

Join us in celebrating Music In Our Schools Month by showing appreciation for the music educators across DFW who make a difference every day!

2022 Music Teacher of the Year Nominations
To learn more about how to nominate a music educator who has made a difference, visit here.

Meet our Music Teacher of the Year, Christian Ferreira

Christian David Ferreira Gutierrez is from Bucaramanga, Colombia, living in between Colombia, Mexico and the United States throughout his childhood. He attended the University of North Texas where he completed a Bachelors of Music in Music Theory and a Bachelor of Arts in French.

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Teacher Shoutouts


Want to recognize a special North Texas teacher? Click here to tell us why you love your teacher!

Melissa Livings
J.J. Pearce High School

When I was younger, I was worried that I was never going to find my passion, but Mrs. Livings showed me that music is what I’m meant to do. She has been there for me since day one, and I never even considered playing the Double Bass professionally, but Mrs. Livings helped me see that I could do something more with music. She’s been there for me at my best, and my worst, but never stopped pushing me to be the best I could be. Mrs. Livings gave me more than my love for music, but a second family that I will cherish forever. Mrs. Livings is what makes the J.J. Pearce Orchestra a family. Thank you for showing me what I love doing the most. I hope that one day I can be half the orchestra director you are, and that I impact someone like you’ve with me. You’re my role model and my music journey wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for you. The best students originate from the best teachers! Mrs. Livings deserves to be recognized for her hard work, love for music and teaching, and making a difference in everyone one of her students lives. She’s the best teacher a student could ask for!

Mr. Hillegass is probably one of the most passionate, hard working, self-driven, focused, resourceful, and dedicated teachers and human being I have ever met. He is constantly thinking of his students, his program, and making sure they’re in the best shape that they can be in while striving to always perform at the highest level possible!

He’s always researching outside performance opportunities, extra resources for his students, how to obtain better supplies, materials, and instruments; seeking grants, seeing how he can improve his lessons, and doing everything in his power to make sure every student feels safe, welcomed, and successful.

Mark Hillegass Jr.
International Leadership of Texas

Scott Anderson
Hillcrest High School

Mr. Anderson taught me more than just music. Mr. Anderson taught me valuable life lessons along with amazing band experiences. I had gone to UIL with the band in the 7th grade for the first time and the performance gave me insight on what music truly was. The experience I have had as he was and is my teacher is something I will never forget.

Mr. Anderson has inspired many of us band kids at Hillcrest to do better, he strives for our success. When our previous band teacher Mr Smith passed away, Anderson was there for all of us. Smith was not just important to us band kids, he was very important to Anderson as well. Even with that, he still stood strong and led the band as a band director should. I’m very thankful for everything that he has done for us.

Her unwavering belief that all students can succeed has brought not only pride to her community but also not-seen-before success.

Rametria Smith
Sunset High School

Paul Vanderpool
Lebanon Trail Highschool

Mr. Vanderpool really ignited my love for music and made me a much better musician. He is a great teacher that is empathetic and understanding, and offers chances to everyone regardless of their ability or skill. When I was put in the top orchestra, I was clearly not as advanced as some of the other kids and I felt bad about this. However, I remember he put me next to one of the best players in our orchestra. Back then, I didn’t understand why he did this, but now I see that he did this to make me feel more accustomed and more ready to this orchestra. He fully deserves this award and is the best conductor/director I have ever had.

Mr. Vanderpool has made a huge impact on my high school experience. When I first met him, I clearly remember being shocked because he already knew my name and treated me with warmness and kindness. Not only is he an amazing person, but also the best director I could ask for. I truly appreciate the attention he pays to details and how invested he is in the growth of each orchestra. I have been in orchestra for 4 years, but always feel like I am growing because Mr. V assigns us challenging pieces, he also always makes sure we are on track through sectionals and advice. Even when participating in acclaimed competitions, he never fails to make us laugh and focuses on our improvement rather than results. The achievements (TMEA String Honor Orchestra finalist wooooo!) come naturally through dedication and hard work while having fun, enjoying our instruments, and encouraging one another. I think it is safe to say that I have never had a teacher that has been so invested in every student’s personal and instrumental success. I am so grateful for the amazing memories I have made so far in LT Orchestra and would not trade them for the world! Mr. Vanderpool is special to me because he is so caring and amazing!

Mr. Vanderpool gives his all. Even when some of us turn off our cameras and simply don’t feel up to class, he always shoots his blinding smile and cracks jokes that could make scrooge break down laughing at. He has endured so much hardship and his passion to give students a safe space regardless of sexuality, race, gender, expression, or anything truly allows us to feel welcomed and loved in a world where much is unknown. The music is what brings us together but Mr. Vanderpool is who bonds the orchestra together.

Mr. Vanderpool brings so much energy to every student and every class he teaches. He knows all of us so well and his passion about music is infectious. Over this past year I’ve been in FISD’s virtual academy and any chance I get to see him or be in his class improves my day so much. I love getting to go up to the school to help with the orchestra because the environment he creates is so welcoming and positive. This year I’ve really leaned on orchestra for a sense of consistency and safety, and Mr Vanderpool has been a big part of that. The pandemic has been psychologically draining for a lot of students, and the program Mr Vanderpool has built has help keep me sane. I really admire the energy he brings to everything he does, even in times like these.

Mrs. Gallman is absolutely phenomenal orchestra director! She was my very first orchestra director, and has been there for me since day one, helping me grow into the Bass player I’m proud to be today. Back in elementary, I was an awkward Double Bass player who couldn’t keep their bow straight. Although, Mrs. Gallman encouraged me to keep getting better, even when others around me told me to stop playing music. She helped me find that music, specifically music education, is what I want to pursue in the future! She helped me find my happiness and I’m forever grateful. Mrs. Gallman took me under her wing to gain better knowledge of teaching music and all my accomplishments in the future will be for her and all she’s done for me! Mrs. Gallman deserves to me recognized for her dedication to help her students improve and fall in love with their music! I’m too lucky to be able to call her my orchestra director!

Kaitlin Teske-Gallman
J.J. Pearce High School

Rene Schmidt
Dealey Montessori Academy

I am recommending this teacher because he is thoughtful, kind and goes above and beyond for everyone and anyone.

Greg Hamilton is a great mentor of mine, and he inspires me and all of his students through his true passion and dedication to music education. From my time as a beginner trombone student, in which he always pushing and growing us in our skills to be prepared for what came next: middle school wind ensemble where he sparked a passion within myself not only as a performer, but as a composer too. He still impacts me today through his continuing presence in the high school bands, supporting all of his former students, including myself, into their next chapter in musical careers, providing opportunities to grow and learn every day. He has also been present to help improve the mental well-being of his students, offering comfort and sanctuary within the band hall if ever needed. I myself have been a recipient of his grace when my father passed. He was the first one to show up for me and my mother, willing to provide anything we needed. Through his generosity, patience, support, and unending kindness, he demonstrates all the qualities of a wonderful music educator that deserves this special honor!

Greg Hamilton
Crandall Middle School

Muriel Kerr
Greenville ISD

Because she has been more than a teacher a friend and she is always encouraging her students and also because she has been so helpful and she also teaches very good and because she is a good person. And actually at first i was more interested in violin but now I want to be a cellist when I grow up.

Miss Kerr is the best she the best cello teacher I have go Miss Kerr

She the best cello teacher when it was my first lesson it was about how to use the cello and bow I want to thank her for that.

Mrs. Moore thoroughly deserve this award because she is one of the most involved instructors that I have had. Mrs. Moore is always extremely involved in the orchestra community, and is present at meetings, fundraisers, and other events. She has an extremely commanding presence and is respected by everyone she comes in contact with. She is one of the most strong willed people I have met, and a great instructor on top of that.

Mrs. Moore is a beacon of hope. Her fashion sense is unbeatable and her passion for music is unwavering. Since being in 6th grade to now as a senior in high school, I have been on the constant edge of giving up in orchestra, but Mrs. Moore is always there to remind me of what it truly means. To be united in music but independent in thought is something that I admire about Mrs. Moore’s teaching. Music is an expression, and Mrs. Moore has helped me feel welcomed to explore my own even when the world feels like it is falling down around me; she always gives her all and especially during this time, she is always coming up with fun new games and activities for us to keep engaged and remember that this does not define our experience but how we handle it does. I appreciate all she has done for me and cannot even imagine the immense impact she has had on the society around us. From South America to our small Frisco, Mrs. Moore is a world traveler and a global initiator of progress, a light shining beyond our walls.

Aline Moore
Lebanon Trail High School

Roberto González
Dallas ISD

He helps every student and me. He works very hard!

Ella es una increíble educadora .. se preocupa por el aprendizaje de los niños y su enseñanza de la música lo trasmite con un amor por los instrumentos que realmente contagia a los niños.

Ashley Alarcón
Trinity Basin Preparatory