Gawle named 2016 Music Educator Award finalist

Along with the Grammy nominations news on Monday that Kendrick Lamar received 11 and Taylor Swift and The Weeknd got seven each, there has come the announcement that Wilton High School music director Frank “Chip” Gawle has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Grammy Foundation Music Educator Award.

Gawle, who is one of 10 music teacher finalists from 10 cities and towns from eight states, is band director and fine and performing arts instructional leader at WHS. The official announcement was made on the CBS Morning News Dec. 7.

Presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation, the third annual award recognizes current educators “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,” according to the Grammy Foundation (

Each year, a Music Educator Award recipient is selected from 10 finalists, and recognized for his or her impact on students’ lives.

Gawle, a North Stamford resident who has worked in the Wilton High music department for 35 years, was one of 25 music teachers selected as semifinalists from more than 4,500 initial nominations submitted from all 50 states.

He told The Bulletin he is “still in a bit of a state of shock over the news” and that it is “very important” that people look at this achievement as a team effort.

“I am here because I had the best mentor possible, Mr. John Rhodes, the unsung architect of the Wilton Music Program. I am here because of the great students I have had the pleasure of teaching [and] tremendously supportive colleagues who consistently inspire these wonderful students and share time from their successful programs for our students to flourish in the music program,” said Gawle.

“I am here because of the great support of parents in this community, like the Willis [family] that nominated me, and videographer Sue Lash, who spent countless hours shooting and editing the videos.”

Gawle also thanked the Board of Education and administration for supporting fine and performing arts in Wilton, “without which,” he said, “we would have no Clune Center, no Little Theater, no new music facilities, and no equipment to run a large program.”

“Finally,” said Gawle, “I am here because of the myriad positive personal relationships crafted and maintained over the years with students, parents, administration, colleagues and members of this great community.”

Even if he does not win the award, Gawle said, he has been “blessed with a gift of appreciation for hard work, but that work was not done by me — it was done by us. That is what we should all celebrate.”

This year’s Music Educator Award will be presented to the winner at the special merit awards ceremony and nominees reception on Sunday, Feb. 14, during Grammy Week. The winner will be flown to the host city of the Grammy Awards, where he or she will accept the award, attend the awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium.

The nine other finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

“Please join the WHS Music Boosters in congratulating Mr. Gawle on this very well deserved recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in music education and his continued commitment to inspiring and educating our students,” said a message to Warrior Band parents and friends shared with The Bulletin on Monday by Anna MacDonald of the WHS Band Boosters.

The announcement about the music educator award finalists is towards the end of this CBS video clip.

Click here to learn more about the Music Educator Award.