Toledo Symphony Announces 2019-2020 Outstanding Music Educator Award Recipients

Published Monday, May 18, 2020 9:00 am

The Toledo Symphony announced the recipients of its inaugural Outstanding Music Educator Award: Justin Kelley, band director at Rossford Schools, and Colleen Sieberg, music teacher at Maumee Valley Country Day School (MVCDS).

“Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize the incredible work that our music educators are doing to support their students in and out of the classroom,” says Rachel Schultz, Director of Education for the Toledo Symphony. “We are so fortunate to be a part of a community that values music.”

“What we do here at the Toledo Symphony is, in large part, an extension of the work that is done in classrooms across the country,” continues Schultz. “Professional orchestras, including ours, would not be here today without teachers who continue to instill the love of music in their students. There are countless stories from Toledo Symphony musicians who were inspired to pick up an instrument or start singing in their 5th grade music programs, and similarly, there are countless stories from our patrons who fell in love with music on a class field trip to hear the orchestra. The Toledo Symphony is proud to recognize Justin and Colleen as this year’s recipients of the award."

Justin Kelley holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Toledo. In September, Justin will graduate with his Master of Fine Arts in Music Education degree from Boston University. He began working at Rossford in the middle of the 2012-2013 school year and currently teaches concert band (grades 6-12), marching band, jazz band, and general music (grades 8-12).

“There is no doubt that Mr. Kelley has been able to provide a high-quality experience for all students at Rossford—and, a fun and enjoyable one at the same time!” says Jacob Lesick, one of Kelley’s students. “He continues to amplify the experience year by year. Mr. Kelley is truly an exceptional and outstanding music educator that we are happy to have here at Rossford!”

“We are thrilled that the Toledo Symphony Orchestra has selected [Rossford’s] band director, Justin Kelley, as your 2020 Outstanding Music Educator!” says Chris Claypool, Rossford Band Boosters Secretary. “It is a tremendous honor for him and is a great opportunity for our students to be exposed to the great works of TSO.”

“I am truly honored to be receiving this award from the Toledo Symphony,” says Kelley. “I was very surprised, and I am extremely grateful to those who nominated me and all who support the hard work of Rossford bands. The Rossford students and community continue to amaze me with their dedication to music education. Thank you so much to the Toledo Symphony for this great honor!”

Colleen Sieberg graduated from Rocky River High School and went on to earn her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Bowling Green State University. She later received her master’s degree from Marygrove College in Detroit. Colleen taught in Bellefontaine City Schools in 1978 and Toledo Public Schools in 1979, but spent the majority of her career as a music teacher for Maumee Valley Country Day School, where she taught strings and general music for 40 years. In 1993, Colleen received the MVCDS Stranahan Award for Excellence in Teaching. Colleen passed away suddenly in January of this year at the age of 64.

“Colleen’s energy, creativity, and enthusiasm for the arts were unparalleled,” wrote Lynn Casto, head of school, in a communication to the Maumee Valley community. “She leaves behind a legacy at Maumee Valley.”

“Colleen pushed you to succeed. It was about helping you to find your own personal joy in music,” said Tom Cambisios in his nomination. “Colleen taught thousands of us to find joy in music.”

“The Sieberg family is deeply honored to have Colleen selected as a recipient of Toledo Symphony’s Outstanding Music Educator Award,” says Tom Sieberg, Colleen’s husband. “We have always known how special she was as a wife and mother. We also know that she was just as special as an educator. It is rewarding to have her efforts recognized publicly. She gave her all in the classroom and in performance, and she expected the same of her students. Her energy and enthusiasm were contagious and giving your best effort was simply the only choice.”

Sieberg continues, “When visiting her classroom, you could tell she was having as much fun as the kids when preparing a dance or skit. She was in tune with people of all ages and worked tirelessly to reach every child. Thank you to the Toledo Symphony for initiating this very important award and allowing us to be part of the first ceremony.”

Kelley and Sieberg’s classes will receive complimentary tickets to a 2020-2021 Toledo Symphony Young People’s Concert or Masterworks concert. They will also receive a complimentary ensemble presentation for their classroom or school during the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We extend our congratulations to the nominees from across the region as well,” says Schultz. “This public nomination process allowed students, parents, colleagues, school administrators, and community members to nominate deserving music teachers who make a difference in their communities. We were humbled by the incredible stories that were shared.”

Nominees included James Brake (Arcadia), Jennifer Cobb (Archbold), Brett Grime (Tinora), Jennifer Mercer (Springfield), Bob Sloan (Van Vert), Kimberly Stanton (Toledo Public), Christian Watson (Willard), and Jay Welenc (Toledo School for the Arts).

For more information about Toledo Symphony’s Outstanding Music Educator Award or educational outreach opportunities for schools, please contact Rachel Schultz at or visit


The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is a community-supported organization of professional musicians and teachers who deliver quality performance and music education for all.

Formed in 1943 as The Friends of Music and incorporated in 1951 as the Toledo Orchestra Association, Inc., the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has grown from a core group of twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra that employs sixty-nine professional musicians who consider the Toledo Symphony their primary employer, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands.

On January 1, 2019, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet officially merged to form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), a new non-profit organization dedicated to providing exceptional live music and dance performances and education for the region. This partnership promises to create new and invigorating programs, provide cost and revenue synergies in operations, and integrate the arts through shared educational missions.

The Toledo Symphony reaches more than 260,000 individuals annually through performances and education programs. The series concerts (Masterworks, Pops, Chamber, Mozart in the Afternoon, and Family Series) are the critical underpinning of the orchestra’s artistic mission and regularly draw people from 135 postal zip codes. Education programs, student performances, and community concerts are held in schools, neighborhood churches, performing arts centers, and community facilities throughout the region; many are offered at no charge or provided at a reduced fee to help expand participation.

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra has events all year round. View our upcoming performance schedule now.

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