Published: April 28, 2015 By


Maddy Cort, president-elect of the CU NAfME Collegiate chapter, was recognized along with Amanda Johnson and Alex Chavez by the national organization. (Photo: Sean Kemp)

Three CU-Boulder music education students are going home this summer with national recognition.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) last week announced the recipients of its 2015 Professional Achievement Recognition, and Maddy Cort, Amanda Johnson and Alex Chavez were on the list.

Cort is also in the running for the organization’s Shannon Kelly Kane Scholarship.

Assistant professor and NAfME advisor David Rickels nominated the young women, all of whom are closing out their junior years. He says it was an easy decision to throw the ladies’ names into the ring. “I want my students to be successful, so any opportunity I have to give them that recognition, I take it.”

Rickels says all three are highly involved in the organization. Chavez and Johnson co-run the Colorado Conductors Ensemble (CCE) program. “They get together once a week to practice their secondary instruments and conduct other students. They started it and ran with it, with no supervision,” he says.

And that’s in addition to all their other activities and coursework. “Alex and I spent a lot of time planning for CCE and contacting clinicians to come give feedback to those who were teaching,” explains Johnson. “We’ve worked hard to make the program successful.”

Chavez adds, the experience has helped her grow in other aspects of her academic life. “It has been a privilege to serve as an officer and get to try my hand at presenting in front of large groups, planning events, coordinating programs and working with other music educators.”

Cort, meanwhile, is the president-elect of the CU-Boulder NAfME Collegiate chapter. “She’s motivated and reliable and is a great leader,” says Rickels.

“This is an organization that I hold very dear to my heart, since it has allowed me to grow so much as a professional,” says Cort. “Being recognized by such a prestigious and wonderful organization is just amazing.”

Rickels says in addition to recognizing the accomplishments of these individual students, it’s important to call attention to the role NAfME plays in the academic and professional careers of music educators.

“Student teachers who are involved in NAfME and other organizations—who do more than just show up—are the ones who succeed down the road. You can engage with other educators and broaden your skills beyond your classes in a way that non-members can’t,” says Rickels.

All three students are officers for the active CU-Boulder chapter of NAfME. They call their time spent with the organization critical to their future careers.  

“I am grateful to have the privilege to participate in an association that connects me with incredible music educators from around the country,” says Johnson.

“The events, guest speakers and teaching opportunities NAfME provides have been invaluable to my development as a future educator,” Cort adds.

That development will continue beyond studying and student teaching—when all three women are teachers themselves.

“It is a fantastic organization that supports music educators and music programs all around the country,” says Chavez. “I can't wait to explore the possibilities and educational opportunities that I know I will continue to experience as a member of NAfME.” 

“I most definitely plan to continue being a member, even after I graduate,” Cort says. “The opportunities, possibilities and inspiration are just too good to pass up.”