Empowering a community through music: Stephen Richardson

February 16, 2023
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Music makes possibilities. While MusiCounts will proclaim this to anyone with a willing ear, it's educators like Stephen Richardson who weave this philosophy through every teaching. He believes that music empowers kids to be confident and creative humans, and devises ways for every kid - no matter their skill or learning style - to find a home in music class. Stephen Richardson is a nominee for the 2023 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, presented by CST Foundation.

Richardson's approach to music education is one that highlights, amplifies, and celebrates the connection between the music classroom and the music industry in all its various forms. Students in Richardson's class work on projects as varied as songwriting and performing to mixing backing music for their video productions. Richardson reaches out to local musicians or artists touring the North and invites them into the class for performances, workshops, and Q&As to inspire students and show them what kinds of possibilities exist within the music industry.

Stephen is adaptive, and uses cutting-edge research to support his practices. Like any good musician, he's riffing on the latest to make music work for the kids at his school, no matter their needs or approach. He supports neurodivergent students, for example, with noise-assist technology to prevent overstimulation.

Students aren't the only ones who benefit from his dedication; his peers in the music education profession have a sounding board, a confidant, and a collaborator. Stephen connects with the professional community to share best practices and mentors the next generation of music education leaders, including a former student who went on to lead the Band program at a local high school. He also supports his educator colleagues in their musicianship, no matter their area of expertise, and has supported other teachers in securing recording grants to lay their own tracks.

Ultimately, he is the kind of educator who supports growth in students, colleagues, and the local music community. Stephen Richardson of École St. Joseph School in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, is one of five exceptional educators nominated for the 2023 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, presented by CST Foundation. The award recognizes an exceptional music educator with a $10,000 cash prize, a generous donation to their school through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program, and a JUNO statuette.

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award was established in 2005 to recognize and honour an exceptional Canadian music teacher each year. This award is generously presented by CST Foundation. To date, this award has celebrated the accomplishments of 17 music educators across Canada who strive to preserve the livelihood of music education in their school and community.

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award is presented by