Teacher of the Year
The NCMTA Teacher of the Year Award program was established in 2008. This award recognizes a teacher who makes a significant difference in the lives of students, contributes to the advancement of music in a community, and is an outstanding example of a music educator.  Teachers who are recipients of this annual award, automatically have their names submitted as a nomination for the MTNA Teacher of the Year Award. The application form contains the criteria by which the award winner is chosen. The Music Teachers National Association, which was founded in 1976, is composed of 24,000 independent and collegiate music teachers. North Carolina’s first Teacher of the Year Award recipient (Marie Burnette, NCTM) was also the recipient of the MTNA Teacher of the Year Award in 2009.
NCMTA Teacher of the Year Recipients:

2015 Margaret Louise Norwood, NCTM


Number of Years Teaching: 35


Teaching/Professional Achievement:

Active recitalist, collaborative pianist, clinician, visiting lecturer in piano, and adjudicator
Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano, Music Teachers National Association
Master of Music Degree in Piano – University of Southern California
Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano – University of Montevallo
Postgraduate studies include the Academy of Music in Sion, Switzerland, and the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford
Coaching with Walter Hautzig, John O’Conor, Sheila Paige, Clifton Matthews 

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                                           2014 No Award was given

2013 Liz LaBelle


Bachelor of Music in Music Education, Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1973

Performers Certificate in Voice, Crane School of Music, 1974

Graduate Study, Crane School of Music, 1973-1974

Voice training in Los Angeles:  Dr. Maurice Allard, Jack Metz, Carlos Noble, Martin Katz, 1976-1981

Graduate Study, University of New Hampshire, 1996

Awards, Fellowships, Grants

Sigma Alpha Iota, Scholarship Award, Crane School of Music, 1973

Permanent National Certification in Voice, MTNA

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2012 Diane Higgins


  • Salem College, Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance
  • Studied Piano under Dean Clemmons Sandresky
  • Studied Composition/Theory for 4 years under composer Margaret Vardell Sandresky
  • Studied Piano Pedagogy under Margaret Mueller
  • Received a scholarship to play violin with the Winston-Salem Symphony (4 years)



  • MTNA Permanent National Certification

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2011 Paul Stewart

Teaching/professional achievements –

Number of years teaching experience equals Fifty- one years as an Independent piano teacher, University group piano Professor, Piano Pedagogy Professor and Professor of Piano Performance Studies.



1985       D.M., Florida State University

1970       M.M., University of Illinois

1965       B.M., Indiana University

1965       B.M.E., Indiana University

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2010 Barbara Furr

A.  Teaching/professional achievements and number of years teaching

         1.  Certified by MTNA (College Teaching Certification)

         2.  Thirty-five years teaching experience, both at the University level and as a private studio teacher

   B.   Evidence of teaching excellence (i.e. students’ successes):

         1.  A three-time MTNA state winner and Southern Division Alternate

         2.  Four MTNA state honorable mention winners

         3.  A five-time winner of the Old Dominion University (Virginia) Classical Piano Competition

         4.  A winner of two Eastern Music Festival Competitions (Summer 2010), resulting in
              a performance at the Kennedy Center in D.C. and a
performance with the Eastern Music

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2009 John Ruggero

John Ruggero has had a multi-faceted career in music as a pianist, composer, teacher and writer. As a teacher, he has specialized in helping serous pianists solve the technical problems that impede free musical expression. His book A Path to Piano Mastery explains his innovative approach to piano technique.
The son of a professional musician and teacher, John moved from New York City to Raleigh in 1953. He received his B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Duke University, studying with Loren Withers and Iain Hamilton. While at Duke, he appeared as soloist with the Triangle and Duke Symphonies and was the state winner of the MTNA Collegiate Piano Competition. He received his M.S. in Piano Performance from the Juilliard School as a scholarship student of Erwin Freundlich. After graduating from Juilliard, he worked with Arnold Arnstein, music
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2008 Marie Burnette, NCTM

Marie Burnette was the first recipient of the 2008 Teacher of the Year Award from the North Carolina Music Teachers Association.  She was chosen for the National Award in 2009 from all those selected as Music Teacher of the Year form their respective states.
Marie is an independent music teacher in High Point, NC.  She has taught piano and organ for 47 years.  She is certified by the NC Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association.  She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organ, and a Master of music degree in Organ.  She has served as president of NCMTA, as national secretary of Music Teachers National Association, as national chair of the
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