Darren Hamilton is the 2022 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year

May 15, 2022

MusiCounts is excited to announce that Darren Hamilton from David Suzuki Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario is the winner of the 2022 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, presented by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation (CST Foundation). This prestigious national award recognizes an inspirational Canadian music educator's impact on students and music education.

Darren believes that music education should be diverse and inclusive, and should reflect the student populations that schools serve. He uses music education as a tool to teach social justice issues, and co-authored the recent 2022 MusiCounts Learn resource #BlackMusicMatters: Hip-Hop & Social Justice in Canada. The free teaching resource includes cross-curricular lesson plans for educators teaching music, English, geography, history, visual arts, and social sciences, to help them bring Black culture, history, and creativity into the classroom through the lens of hip-hop music. It aims to introduce students to Canadian hip-hop artists and music while engaging them in a critical inquiry of a variety of social justice themes.

JUNO Award-winning and 3x JUNO-nominated rapper and singer TOBi announced Darren's MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award at the 2022 JUNO Awards in Toronto. Darren is the recipient of a $10,000 cash prize, a significant contribution towards the music program of David Suzuki Secondary School, and a JUNO statuette.

"Darren Hamilton is a maverick music educator. Through his lived experience, impressive credentials, and the values he puts into practice at David Suzuki Secondary School and beyond, he's modelling what inclusive, innovative, and celebratory music programming can look like,” said MusiCounts President Kristy Fletcher. “MusiCounts is honoured to recognize Darren's accomplishments with this award. Congratulations, Darren!"

Darren used a grant from the 2021 MusiCounts Band Aid Program to build a hip-hop and R&B music program using DJ consoles to ensure the large population of Black students at his school saw themselves reflected in the programming. Darren has a MMus in Music Education and is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto (U of T), focusing on Music Education and gospel music. He teaches a course on gospel music at U of T to provide access to different forms of Black music at the post-secondary level.

“As a racialized and non-traditional music educator, I am humbled and honoured to be selected as the 2022 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year. I am grateful for my past and current music students who have challenged me to push the envelope of what music education can look like. As the recipient of this award, it is my hope that the Canadian music education landscape will recognize the importance of having racialized students and music educators, as well as the cultural music of racialized communities, represented in classrooms at all levels of music education,” said Darren Hamilton. “It is my vision that students of all musical backgrounds will have access to a well-rounded music education–one that values the aural musicianship skills and performance practices of a wide range of genres and cultural musics as being on par with the written musicianship skills and practices associated with Western classical music.”

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, presented by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation, was established in 2005 to recognize and honour an exceptional Canadian music teacher each year. Darren is the seventeenth recipient of this award which has celebrated the accomplishments of music educators across Canada who strive to preserve the livelihood of music education in their school and community. Darren was one of five teachers from across the country announced as a nominee for the 2022 Award. He is the first Black educator to win the award.

“We are excited to present this award alongside MusiCounts to Darren Hamilton, recognizing his inspirational work that encourages decolonizing the music curricula and helping his peers dismantle systemic racism that exists in the music field,” said Peter Lewis, Vice President, CST Foundation. “For over 60 years, the CST Foundation has recognized the vital role that educators play in helping young Canadians achieve their dreams. Mr. Hamilton is an exceptional example of the impact one person can have on their students, peers, and community.”

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award is Presented by