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John Hathaway, Director of Instrumental Music at Mount St. Mary Academy, received the Singer Family Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching from the University of Rochester on May 17. Hathaway was chosen to receive one of four prizes by the University from among nominees teaching throughout the United States.

“Teachers like Mr. Hathaway do not come around very often,” said former student Chelsea Hans, Mount St. Mary Academy Class of 2010, who nominated Hathaway. “He has the incredible ability to see the best in everyone.”

“As a small, insecure freshman at Mount St. Mary, he challenged me to step up and be more,” Hans continued. “I seized that opportunity, became a leader, and gained the self-confidence I had been lacking.”

After 23 years teaching at Kenmore East High School, Hathaway developed an instrumental music program at Mount St. Mary. The program quickly expanded to include a concert band, jazz ensemble, dance team and marching band, the only all-girls, full-instrumented marching band in New York State. The Jazz Ensemble is now the ten-time Grand Champions of the annual Darien Lake Music Festival, playing in the AAA class.

“John Hathaway came to us with a vision of starting an instrumental music program — and he had the drive to see it through,” said Mount St. Mary Academy Principal Dawn Riggie.  “The Singer Prize is a fantastic way to show how much John’s years of hard work have influenced so many people’s lives.”

The Singer Prize is made possible by the support of Paul Singer, a 1966 graduate of the University of Rochester. During the fall semester, all seniors at the University were asked to nominate one of their former teachers for this award. A committee of faculty and students reviewed the nominations and selected the recipients. Each recipient was recognized during the University of Rochester commencement festivities and received a monetary award towards the recipient’s program.

In addition to his teaching, Hathaway has developed the Buffalo Jazz Review, an annual event which features dozens of high schools performing their music in a professional public venue. He has staged professional-amateur concerts with influential musicians including Bobby Militello, Rich Thompson, Alex Dean and Dave Mancini.

Under Hathaway’s leadership, Mount St. Mary Academy musicians have performed nationally and internationally, including in the Bahamas; Disney World’s Easter Parade; New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade; Grand Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; and the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Hope Ball in Washington, DC, plus many local and regional events. In April, Mount St. Mary Academy students performed at St. Luke’s Theater in New York City as part of a clinical experience with representatives from Trans-Siberian Orchestra and The Radio City Rockettes.

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