Music man

Gleason inspires middle school students

Chris Gleason, ’02, one of six UWL alumni being honored for distinguished service and a successful career.

He’s an accomplished musician — and an excellent teacher. Christopher Gleason, ’02, involves the community with his students and has the middle school performers work with a major composer each year.

The 2017 Grammy Music Educator Award recipient — one of only 25 nationally — is much more than a music teacher to his middle school students in Sun Prairie.

“Chris teaches the whole person,” explains Victoria Rockman, a Patrick Marsh Middle School parent whose four children had Gleason as a teacher. “He doesn’t just teach a student how to finger notes. He focuses on teaching empathy for each other and the world around us.”

At an age when children can be disorganized, forgetful and unmotivated, Gleason creates a productive classroom environment. He cues them to think critically, analyze and articulate music, and speak with ease about music.

“His ability to convince every kid in the band that they can do more than they think they can, and then help them do it, is a rare talent for conductors at any level, let alone this one,” says parent Michael Engleson.

Gleason’s accomplishments have resonated with many — including those awarding a variety of state and national music honors.

The Christopher Gleason file

  • Instrumental Music Teacher, Patrick Marsh Middle School, Sun Prairie, since 2004. La Crosse Logan Middle School, 1999-2004; East Troy Middle School 1997-1999
  • Founder, Kalahari Band Festival
  • Semi-finalist for the 2017 Grammy Music Educator Award; Wisconsin representative for National Teacher of the Year Award; Michael G. George Distinguished Service Award; Kohl Teacher Fellowship; Melvin F. Pontious Sparks in Music Education Award
  • Masters of Education in Professional Development from UWL, May 2002

The 6 receiving distinguished alumni awards

Alumni being honored for distinguished service and successful careers return to campus in fall. They will speak with students and participate in a panel at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in the Great Hall, Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. An Alumni Awards Brunch and Ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Get ticket information.

Awards and honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award
Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

  • Shelmina Abji, ’85

Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award
Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

  • Patrick Gonzales, ’05
  • Hollie Nyseth Brehm, ’08

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award
Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed greatly to improve multiracial culture and understanding on campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

  • Jessica Rae, ’05

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award
Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

  • Lisa Koenecke, ’91
  • Christopher Gleason, ’02

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles recognizing alumni receiving distinguished service awards in September 2017.