Tonawanda News

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May 17, 2014

NT music teacher honored by his peers

Tonawanda News — Coming off a strong showing at the recent Kenny Awards for his theatrical successes, the North Tonawanda School District’s music department coordinator was recognized for his program yet again, this time for the chorus he leads. 

Dean Vallas, 43, who is director of choruses and also the school musical producer at the high school, received the BPO/Niagara County Music Educators Association Award for Excellence in Music Education during a ceremony at Kleinhan’s Music Hall this week, an honor bestowed by his peers for his involvement in the county’s music scene and his efforts in cultivating the strength of its programs.  

Vallas, who runs three choirs at the high school, said the popularity of his program is growing, with about 200 students already involved in the program. He is looking to add a fourth class next year. 

“The freshmen group coming up is so large that it would be over 100 students in the class,” he said. “There’s just an increase in the number of kids who want to sing.” 

Similar honors were handed out to four Erie County music educators, an award that began in 1994 in conjunction with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Niagara County launched its award in 2011. A former North Tonawanda music teacher, Norm Alexander, who also took home the honor before retiring, tendered the award to Vallas. 

Combined, Vallas served nine years as president and vice president of the association, a role he said he left to focus more on the North Tonawanda program. He has traveled the state as a guest conductor at schools and festivals throughout his career, leading student choral ensembles and the Buffalo Youth Choir. 

But despite his active involvement locally and across the state, he said much of his success could be attributed to his colleagues as well as the students of the district. 

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