Vt. music teacher reaps her own rewardsJanuary 21,2014
By Kevin O’Connor
A Top-10 finalist for the Grammy’s first-ever Music Educator Award, Vermont music teacher Lisa Patno Bianconi was featured Monday on the CBS Evening News as one of only two honorees to be profiled.
The other instructor — Kent Knappenberger of Westfield, N.Y. — ultimately was announced the winner Tuesday when his story aired on the network’s morning show. But Bianconi, a teacher for nearly three decades at Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster, is reaping her own rewards.
“I came here with an attitude,” 12-year-old Ethiopian orphan Emembet Stott said on the CBS program seen by 8 million
viewers. “Ms. Bianconi, she talked to me. The fact that she was right there and listened to me — I don’t even know how to explain it. She felt like the mother I never had.”
Growing up in Rutland, Bianconi started piano lessons at age 5 and was proficient in band and chorus by the time she graduated from high school in 1981. But going off to college in neighboring New Hampshire, she minored in chemistry just in case she couldn’t find a job teaching music.
Enter Kurn Hattin, a 120-year-old boarding school for grades 1-8 students seeking what the private nonprofit institution describes as “a secure and supportive haven during a troubled period in their families’ lives.”
“They are kids who have been abused and neglected,” Bianconi was quoted on CBS. “They come in here really angry and the first thing they say is, ‘I don’t do music.’”
She does. Since her hiring at age 21, Bianconi has taught every music class, instrumental lesson and band, choir and vocal program — spurring her school to nominate her for the new Music Educator Award, introduced to recognize teachers “who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field.”
Bianconi, one of more than 30,000 candidates from all 50 states, was selected one of 217 quarterfinalists in May, one of 25 semifinalists in September and one of 10 finalists in December.
“Never, never, never give up,” Bianconi told CBS. “These kids have all been given up. Every day, I come in here with positive attitude, positive energy no matter what happens. Whatever happened at home, leave it at home. Give these kids 100 percent full force, full energy.”
Bianconi joins such music legends as Journey (“Don’t Stop Believing”) and Queen (“We Are the Champions”) who, inexplicably to their fans, haven’t won a Grammy. But as a Top-10 finalist, the teacher will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grant for her school, plus thanks from Kurn Hattin’s 100 students worth more than any trophy.
As Stott told CBS: “There is never gonna be something big enough for what she does, even a Grammy. She’s bigger than that.”MORE IN This Just In
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Seals have figured out fish they like to eat gather in schools around turbines in offshore wind farms. But the environment is not without hazards, maintenance vessels and noise pollution.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa disappears on this day in 1975, on this day in 2003, the last Volkswagen Type I, the Beetle, rolls off the assembly line in Mexico, Nelson Mandela on the primacy of teaching love over hate.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Vermont Yankee announces final day of nuclear power generation in Vermont, storm brings floods back to Chester, Castleton town manager to resign office, chronic offender sentenced to 25 years for sexual assault.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Rutland Herald content editor Rich Alcott shares local weather information and easily digestible news tidbits: Archaeologists find a leather shoe in a cave in Armenia that predates the Pyramids by more than a thousand years.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1932, President Hoover orders the Army to evict bonus marchers from Anacostia Flats; author Malcolm Lowry born this day, as is Jackie Kennedy and Mike Bloomfield; Stephen Crane on consuming one's own heart.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Rutland Herald content editor Rich Alcott shares local weather information and easily digestible news tidbits: Earth barely avoids being blasted by immense solar flare in 2012, astrophysicists say next time might not be so lucky.