Although he did not win the 2016 Music Educator Award, Wilton High School band director and fine and performing arts instructional leader Frank “Chip” Gawle will receive a $1,000 honorarium for being a finalist, and Wilton High School will receive a matching grant.

For three years, the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation have presented the annual award to 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.

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

Each year, a Music Educator Award recipient is selected from 10 finalists, and recognized for his or her impact on students’ lives. Phillip Riggs from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, N.C., was named this year's winner.

Chip Gawle


Gawle was nominated for the 2016 Music Educator Award by Ralph and Ellen Willis and said he is "blessed to be a music teacher in a town that’s incredibly supportive of education and to get to work with great kids."

Thanks to Wilton High School’s “fantastic” fine and performing arts department staff, Gawle said, music has become an important part of Wilton’s education system.

“Tons of students come back after graduation and visit and a lot of students continue playing music in college and through life — that’s what we’re really about," he said. "We build lifelong friendships with kids through the music program.”

When he was named a Music Educator Award semifinalist back in October, Gawle said it was a “positive recognition” of Wilton High School’s music program and everything that the fine and performing arts department has accomplished.

“We’re teaching kids because we really care for them. It’s about making relationships and being passionate and compassionate, about teaching and learning and building relationships that are lifelong,” he said.

“That’s what good teaching is, and that’s what good teachers do, and I’m certainly not the only one in this school or in this town.”

To learn more about the Music Educator Award, visit grammymusicteacher.com.