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Wilton Music Teacher Earns $1K Grant As Finalist In Grammy Contest

Frank "Chip" Gawle Frank "Chip" Gawle
Frank "Chip" Gawle Photo Credit: Contributed
Frank Gawle Frank Gawle
Frank Gawle Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. — Frank "Chip" Gawle, a music educator at Wilton High School and a North Stamford resident, was one of 10 finalists nationwide for the 2016 Music Educator Award presented by the Grammy Foundation and The Recording Academy.

Although Gawle did not win the top award, he will receive a $1,000 grant for being a finalist, and Wilton High School will receive a matching award.

Gawle is the band director and a fine and performing arts instructional leader at Wilton High School, where he has worked for 35 years. Gawle will retire at the end of the school year.

The award is presented annually to educators who have “made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools,” according to the Grammy Foundation.

Phillip Riggs from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, N.C., was named this year’s winner.

But Gawle was one of 10 finalists selected out of 4,500 initial nominations. 

Gawle, who has been teaching at Wilton High School since 1981, was nominated for the award by a parent. When he received a packet of information from the Grammy Foundation in May with the steps needed to move forward, Gawle wondered whether he should go through with the application.

He told his AP Music Theory students that he was too busy preparing for end-of-year school concerts and musicals.

But his students encouraged him to enter, and with help from them and a dedicated parent, Gawle produce the two videos needed for the application.

Gawle was shocked when he was named a finalist. “I just went ‘wholly mackerel’,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

Gawle’s late father was named the 1988 Connecticut teacher of the year.

“I saw how much he enjoyed his career and how much the kids loved him,” Gawle told the Daily Voice. “Subconsciously, I became a teacher because I was so impressed by how much fun he had doing his job.”

Gawle, who has been teaching at Wilton High School since 1981, is a humble character. He credits his students and his teaching partner, John Rhodes, for his success.

“(Rhode’s) guidance and mentorship has been a crucial part of he success of the program,” Gawle said. “He’s kind of an unsung hero."

Nominations for the 2017 Music Educator Award are now open. To nominate a music teacher, visit:

Read more about Frank Gawle here on the Daily Voice.

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