2019 Teacher of the Year - James Cumings
Mr. James Cumings has been teaching choral music since 1999 at Jackson Northwest Kidder Middle School. During that time He has taken great pleasure in working with middle school singers--watching them grow both as musicians and young people who care about each other and their art. There are days when he tells his students, “Can you believe that people pay me to hear you sing? I’ve got the best job in the world!”
In service to MSVMA, James has worked as a clinician, adjudicator, JH/MS repertoire liaison, district manager, treasurer, fall clinic manager, and has hosted many Solo & Ensemble events. He was also the director of the Michigan State Honors Choir for JH/MS SA singers in 2009, and the director of the MMEA Elementary Honors Choir in 2015/16. James has led conference sessions at MMC and MSVMA summer workshops about developing middle school choral tone, guiding the heart of a middle school singer, tips and tricks for sight-reading, getting singers to work so you don’t have to, and has been a panelist for “Meeting of the Minds”.
James’ Honors Choir has performed at past Michigan Music Conferences in 2004, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2016, and the Michigan ACDA Fall Conference in 2005. In the last three years, 13 of his NWMS choirs have received superior ratings at choir festival both in performance and sight reading; his choirs sight read at the intermediate and advanced level AND his 8th grade ladies read high school advanced.
Beyond MSVMA, James has been hired as a guest conductor for the Boy’s PowerSing in Naperville IL, and has been a guest clinician at combined choir events in Muskegon, Roscommon, Grand Ledge, Watervliet, Jenison, Jackson area schools and more. In the spring of 2014, his 7th grade choir was also featured at a Music Education Convocation at Western Michigan University. This year will also mark the sixth summer of serving as a faculty member at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp directing the SSA Choir for grades 7-9.
Outside the walls of public education, James enjoys spending time with his family, playing basketball and tennis, going hunting, fishing, and canoeing, as well as directing the church choir and leading worship at Bethel Church.
On a personal note, I am truly humbled to be nominated again as one of MSVMA’s “Teacher of the Year”. So many of you have invested in me. Much of what I do as a teacher is a direct result of teachers in Michigan guiding and shaping me and directing my practice. Thank you all so much!
Joel Van Houten
MSVMA Emeritus Status
The Emeritus Membership Program honors retired MSVMA members, whose lives have been devoted to the enhancement of choral music in secondary schools. Nominations are made at spring District meetings and submitted to the MSVMA past president by June 1 for Board of Directors review. A one-time nomination fee of $100 per candidate is paid by their District.
Lifetime membership in MSVMA is granted to recipients of Member Emeritus status. Members Emeritus may not serve as officers.
Candidates for emeritus status have:
Exceptions regarding teaching and/or length of tenure may be considered by the Executive Board.
Reaching for the Stars Award
Teachers of the Year
2018 Monty Bishop
2017 Kelli Falls
Michigan School Vocal Music Association
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