The North Carolina Symphony will present the 2010 Maxine Swalin Award for an Outstanding Music Educator to Charlotte teacher Judith C. Booth on May 29 during a 6:00 p.m. reception at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Regency Park.
The award is presented annually to a North Carolina music teacher who serves the community as a role model in music education, instills a love for music in children and inspires students to reach appropriately high musical standards.
Booth, the orchestra teacher at Northeast Middle School and Albemarle Road Middle School, has taught music in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools for over 30 years.
“She has a reputation for serving her students selflessly,” says North Carolina Symphony Acting Education Manager Jessica Nalbone, “purchasing classroom materials with her own money and devoting countless hours of personal time to those who cannot afford private instruction.”
Booth is an accomplished violinist and has performed professionally for over 40 years in various ensembles, including the Salisbury and Union Symphony Orchestras. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education with a concentration in reading and continues to expand professionally as a member of multiple professional educators associations. A leader in professional development for her school district, she works with non-string-playing orchestra directors to strengthen their skills in the classroom.
In addition to holding high expectations for herself, Booth has facilitated numerous opportunities for her students to actively participate within the community, including collaborations with artists, composers, ensembles, schools and local organizations.
“Her contributions go well beyond the classroom,” says Mark Propst, one of Booth’s supporters. “She has made inestimable contributions to the intellectual, emotional and social growth of countless lives… She is a stellar model for others to emulate.”
In the early 1990s, Booth began traveling with her students to perform for elementary school programs in Alleghany County, an area where students have very little exposure to live orchestral music. These visits inspired Allegheny County to seek regular orchestral performances for their elementary grades, including the North Carolina Symphony’s education concerts, for which administrators credit Booth. Her groups continue to travel to Sparta each year, where they now collaborate with the Junior Appalachian Musicians of Alleghany County on an “Old Tyme” music performance.
Dena Byers, music specialist at Hillandale Elementary school in Durham, is the second recipient of an award created last year by the Symphony’s Education Committee. The Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement is to be given in years in when there is a particularly strong second candidate for the Swalin Award. Jackson Parkhurst is the Symphony’s former Director of Education whose longstanding service helped shape and grow the orchestra’s education program.
The Outstanding Music Educator Award honors Maxine Swalin, who, together with her husband Dr. Benjamin Swalin, North Carolina Symphony Music Director from 1939-1972, established the children’s concert division of the Symphony in 1945. Largely because of the Swalins’ efforts, Senate Bill No. 248 (“The Horn Tootin’ Bill”) passed, providing state fiscal support for the Symphony’s education program. Sixty-one years later, the program still brings live symphonic music to children throughout North Carolina.