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Wilton High Band Director Hits The Right Notes With Grammy Award Jurors

Frank "Chip" Gawle, band director at Wilton High, is up for a special Grammy Award.
Frank "Chip" Gawle, band director at Wilton High, is up for a special Grammy Award. Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. — Teaching is in Frank “Chip” Gawle’s roots.

His late father was an award-winning teacher in Connecticut. Later, Gawle followed in his footsteps.

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

Just like his father, who was named the 1988 Connecticut teacher of the year, Gawle has gained recognition, too.

When Gawle recently found out he was one of 25 music teachers selected as a semi-finalist for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation, he was happily surprised.

“I just went ‘wholly mackerel’,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

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.”

Gawle never sought the recognition from the Grammys: A parent nominated him, and he was among 4,500 applicants.

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 his application.

Gawle told his AP Music Theory students that he was too busy. It was the end of the year, he said: He had to prepare for school concerts and musicals.

But his students encouraged him to enter. The students, along with a dedicated parent, Susan Lash, worked to produce the two videos needed for the application.

The parents and students who spent countless hours preparing Gawle’s application give him rave reviews and call him an inspiration.

“I have only had him for one year so far, but I have already improved like 400 percent on my musical ability because of him,” says one review posted on ratemyteachers.com . “He knows what he is talking about and encourages us to succeed.”

If Gawle is selected for the award, he will be flown to the Grammy Awards in February to accept the award, attend the Grammy Awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium.

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