One local music teacher creates more than just melodies in her classroom -- she creates inspiration among her students.
And for her efforts, Northgate Middle/Senior High School teacher Kelly Winovich of Adams is among 217 music teachers from 195 cities in 45 states to be named a quarterfinalist for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.
Ms. Winovich has spent the past decade challenging her students to push their boundaries. A student excels at singing? She would encourage him or her also to audition for a dance-intensive part in the school musical.
One of her students, Justine Barry, 16, said she does not think she has ever met a teacher more dedicated to her students than Ms. Winovich. If anyone doesn't feel confident enough about an upcoming performance, Ms. Winovich will stay after school for hours to go over the vocals for the song, she said.
Justine said she has watched how much impact Ms. Winovich has had on her students. Encouraging students is something the Northgate junior wants to do in the future.
"Because of her, I actually want to go into music education," Justine said.
An estimated 30,000 teachers were nominated throughout the country for the award. She was among 16 selected from Pennsylvania.
"I am so grateful to the individuals who nominated me," Ms. Winovich said. "Teaching music is my passion, and it is thrilling for our Northgate community to receive this national recognition."
Quarterfinalists such as Ms. Winovich have been asked to submit additional material in the form of videos and essays. The submissions will be reviewed and scored by a screening committee composed of music educators and other music professionals.
Hannah Berryman, new media communications assistant for Grammy, said semifinalists will be announced in August, and 10 finalists will be selected in December. The winner will be flown to California to accept the award and attend the Grammy Awards Jan. 26 in Los Angeles. The winner will receive a $10,000 honorarium along with a $10,000 grant for his or her school.
Born into a musical family in Ohio Township, Ms. Winovich said her parents recognized that she had talent, so they signed her up for piano lessons. She also received lessons in voice, dance and flute while growing up.
She went on to study music education at Duquesne University, where she was a four-year cheerleader.
Ms. Winovich started teaching dance to students at a young age because she liked helping others.
To Ms. Winovich, there is no better feeling of accomplishment than watching students turn into performers in front of her. She said she knows a career in music is what she was meant to do with her life.
"There are so many things I enjoy about being a teacher," Ms. Winovich said. "I strive to create a positive atmosphere in my classroom and to challenge my students to always work to their full potential."
This is not the first honor for Ms. Winovich. As director of choral music at Northgate Middle/High School, she was selected as Teacher of the Year for 2004 by the local Walmarts and Sam's Clubs.
Jessica Tully: email@example.com, 412 263-1159 and on Twitter: @jessalynn4.