And the GRAMMY Goes to … Jared Cassedy

February 13, 2015

by Jillian DiPersio, Windham High School Intern

On Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, CBS This Morning announced that Windham High School’s very own Jared Cassedy had been named the recipient of the 2015 Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.  Despite the fact that a snow day prevented Mr. Cassedy’s students from giving him formal congratulations, social media and Mr. Cassedy’s inbox have been flooded with words of joy and pride for this outstanding educator.

The award was designed to recognize music educators for their dedication to keeping music as an integral part of their students’ lives.  Cassedy was chosen from a pool of over 7,000 fine music educators from around the nation.

Upon hearing the announcement, Cassedy recounted, “I was completely floored.”  Beyond the excitement he felt as a result of the announcement itself, he commented, “CBS News did a fantastic job on their piece.  They really highlighted the students and all they have done throughout the years to make the band program the best that it can be.”

Kaley Missert, junior at WHS and French horn player in the concert band, said that she heard the announcement on the news.  Even on a snow day she “Rolled out of bed at 8:25, I stumbled downstairs, turned on the TV, it was like 8:29 and I was freaking out … I jumped up off the couch, I screamed, and I cried a little bit!”

She certainly was not the only one.  Amanda Bono, WHS junior and flute player, explained, “I was up at 8, I was so ready for it.  I was beyond excited.  This is a huge deal for him and I’m so happy he’s gotten the recognition for it.”

The entire Windham community was quick to congratulate their band director right after the announcement.  WHS junior and bassoonist Cierra Cowan stated that, had it not been for the snow, “I probably would’ve jumped up, screamed, said ‘oh my God you did it,’ hugged him, ‘I totally knew this would happen.’  He’s so deserving, I feel so lucky to have him as a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.”

Cassedy was immediately inundated with calls, texts, emails, and Facebook notifications.  He joked, “I usually try to keep a clean inbox, but that has not been the case this morning.”  Cassedy posted a message on Facebook, stating “I wish I could call, hug, text, email every single one of you!  I am completely humbled and honored by this!  I want you to recognize that you have all impacted me along my journey in so many ways and helped me to make it to where I am today.  For that I am forever in your debt!  Thank you so much – I am beyond words and am completely blown away!  Thank you GRAMMY Foundation GRAMMY in the Schools and the Recording Academy for recognizing the importance of music education!  This means the world to our professional community!”

WHS Principal Ryan Kaplan said he “woke up actually extra early today awaiting the CBS announcement this morning.  My wife and my two children sat with me around the TV waiting for the news to break, and it was such an extraordinary feeling to see Cassedy as the winner of the Grammy Award.  My whole family shared in the excitement.”  However, he was not surprised to hear the result.  He stated, “Going into this I could not imagine somebody more dedicated, committed, impassioned about music education than Mr. Cassedy.  When you hear such news it’s just a validation of what you already knew.”

Kaplan described Cassedy as “an extraordinary teacher, professional, and colleague and the Windham School District and Windham community is incredibly blessed to have him on our team working for the betterment of all of our students, not just students involved in the arts.”  He continued, “The GRAMMY is simply a testament to all that he has done throughout his career up until this point.”

Similarly, WHS Assistant Principal Bob Dawson described Cassedy as “the rare educator who touches the lives of his students …  Although we have had only three graduating classes, I am absolutely certain that his students will continue to be inspired by his example, to learn in new ways based on the motivation he has instilled in him, quote him to their children or students or friends, and more importantly, to smile at the great memories of rehearsals and shows from their time at Windham High School.”

Speaking with Cassedy’s students, it is clear to see that his influence extends far beyond simply music education.  Bono described working with Cassedy as “a gift.”  She said, “He is honestly one of the best teachers I have ever had, not only just teaching music, but it’s more than just music.”

WHS junior and trumpet player, Conor Leland, said, “Every day Mr. Cassedy inspires everyone around him with his exuberant energy and passion for music.  Three years ago I came to the high school not knowing much about the band and I was contemplating not participating.  When I got to the high school, however, I realized that Mr. Cassedy had created a community of amazing and talented people that I wanted to be a part of.”  Leland concluded, “Mr. Cassedy has been a mentor and a true hero in my life, and I just want to say thank you to him and a huge congratulations!”

Likewise, Cierra Cowan explained that her most memorable moment with Cassedy was not a performance but rather when “I was really stressed out by midterms … and he just [asked] ‘are you ok?  You seem really stressed out.  If there’s anything I can do …’  He knew something was off and he was just so worried and concerned about my well being and we just talked it out and I was not stressed at all by the end.”

Cassedy explained, “This award represents more than just music and teaching but a community of students who are truly committed and dedicated to music.  It’s a testament to what they have put into making this program what it is.”

However, Bono stated that Cassedy is “always saying ‘it’s all you guys (the students).’  I’m just glad that he’s finally gotten recognition for himself because I always feel like he’s putting it on the students.  I’m just glad he finally got something for him.”