Vallas receives prestigious Music Educator Award
BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | May 27, 2014
NORTH TONAWANDA - Dean Vallas, the music department coordinator for the North Tonawanda School District, received the BPO/NCMEA Award for Excellence in Music Education during a ceremony at Kleinhan’s Music Hall.
This peer-chosen award for excellence in music education honors exceptional music educators for contributions in fostering musical growth in their students and for enhancing Niagara County music programs.
This is the fourth year the award has been given to a music teacher in Niagara County. Vallas was chosen by his peers in the Niagara County Music Educator’s Association. Norm Alexander, a retired music educator from North Tonawanda and a past recipient of the award, presented Vallas with the award which is sponsored by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, in collaboration with Western New York BOCES.
“When I visit the music suite at the high school, there is always a vibe of excitement and enthusiasm in this special hallway of the school” said Gregory J. Woytila, superintendent of NT Schools. “Music in North Tonawanda isn’t just a job of the staff in the music department; it’s a way of life. His students are truly his children and their dedication to one another is very strong.”
Vallas attended Hamburg High School. He received a degree in music education concentrating in vocal music from The Crane School of Music. He earned his master of music performance degree in choral conducting from University at Buffalo.
Vallas has been a guest conductor at several schools and festivals across New York State, directing choral ensembles from middle school to high school. Early in his career, Dean was the artistic director of the famed Erie County Fair musical group “Spirit of Youth”, as well as being the music director of the Buffalo Youth Choir.
He has been a very active participant of NCMEA. He served four years as vice president of choruses, four years as NCMEA vice-president, and five years as NCMEA president.
He is the director of choruses at the high school as well as department coordinator for music in the North Tonawanda School District, where he produces the annual school musical which this year was a finalist for the Kenny Award, a cabaret dessert theater, and many concerts both in and outside of school.
A former student who is now a music educator said, “Mr. Vallas was a very influential teacher in my life. He was willing to help me with any problems I had and was always willing to push me to be a better musician. He encouraged me to go to Crane School summer music camp, which was one of the reasons I chose to go there to study.”
“The students work twice as hard for him because they respect and value having him as a teacher and friend,” said Woytila. “His dedication to them is shown in the countless productions and after-hour practices and shows that he organizes to help the students be the best they can be. His enthusiasm is so contagious he even got me a part in this year’s play ‘9 to 5 The Musical’. It’s Mr. Vallas’ ‘out of the box’ thinking that makes him a unique gem, amongst all the jewels in North Tonawanda’s Music Department”.
Vallas and his wife, Christine, have two sons, Noah and Jacob.