Canadian music education charity MusiCounts has announced that Don Bossé of Fredericton High School (FHS) in Fredericton, NB is the recipient of the 2016 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees and multiple Grammy-nominated band Rush have joined forces with MusiCounts as the sole sponsor of this year’s award, which recognizes teachers with outstanding dedication to inspiring and nurturing the musical growth of Canadian youth. Rush members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson surprised Bossé, who is a fan of the band, while he was in Toronto last week for a private shopping experience at Holt Renfrew Men for his JUNO red carpet-ready suit.
At the surprise presentation to Bossé, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson spoke about the reasons they chose to support this award. “When everything you have in life has come from the fountain of music, you want to spread that around and you want to encourage others,” said Lee. “Music is a fantastic way to enrich your life and to express yourself, so to encourage teachers to help young people find that in themselves is a very noble cause.” “It’s also way more fun than math,” added Lifeson.
Drummer Neil Peart, although not able to be a part of the presentation, recalled the three teachers (referred to as his Holy Trinity) that had a profound influence on him: “Freddie Gruber, Peter Erskine, and Don George, who was my first drum teacher from my hometown of St. Catharines. Don gave me my most important encouragement at the age of 13 by telling me I could be a drummer if I wanted to be – that meant a lot.”
Bossé received $10,000 plus a $10,000 contribution to his school’s music program. In addition, he will experience VIP treatment throughout JUNO Week, attending the Chairman’s Reception and the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards, and will walk the red carpet at The JUNO Awards Broadcast on April 3rd in Calgary.
“It is a huge honour for MusiCounts to have an iconic group like Rush sponsor this award,” said Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards & MusiCounts. “Considering that Geddy and Alex both share fond memories of being in music class together and Neil’s comments about the direct influence of teachers throughout his career, it’s very fitting. Without teachers like Don, it’s hard to imagine just how many other JUNO Award-winning artists may not have got that crucial inspiration at a young age.”
Recognized as a key contributor to his community, Bossé has been teaching at Fredericton High School for 22 years and calls JUNO Award winners David Myles and Measha Brueggergosman former students. As the Fine Arts Department Head for the last 20 years, Bossé has demonstrated his passion for music and teaching by incorporating technology into his music lessons to assist students with learning difficulties and challenge those who have advanced skills. With the assistance of a significant Innovative Learning Fund grant several years ago, he was able to create a professional-quality recording studio and develop Recording & Sound Design 120, a course option for FHS students.
“The experience of receiving the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year award from MusiCounts and Rush was truly amazing. It is a day I will never forget,” said Bossé. “The award means a lot because it validates the importance of what we do as music educators and teachers, and the positive impact we have in the lives of our students.”
In addition to building relationships with nearly 100 students in his current music program, Bossé also understands the importance of connecting with future students. Last year, along with two middle school colleagues, he organized “Bandapalooza,” an afternoon of music workshops with band students from two local middle schools, their teachers and FHS band members that culminated in a fundraising concert in the evening. He has also been pivotal in building a band program at nearby Priestman Street School. For several years, Bossé and his students would spend their lunch hour every day teaching the elementary students how to play their instruments and work as an ensemble. In March of last year, Bossé was presented with the 2015 Lieutenant-Governor’s New Brunswick Youth Orchestra Award.
For more information, contact MusiCounts: 416-485-3135, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.musicounts.ca.