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Education: Student Ensembles, Competitions & Awards

Music Educator Awards

The North Carolina Symphony’s Maxine Swalin Award for Outstanding Music Educator, Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement and North Carolina Symphony Musicians Award are presented annually to North Carolina music teachers who:
  • Make a lasting difference in the lives of students of all abilities and backgrounds
    • Note: For the North Carolina Symphony Musicians Award only: Have an immediate impact on the lives of students of all abilities and backgrounds
  • Serve the community in an exemplary manner as a role model in music education
  • Instill a love for music in children
  • Inspire students to reach appropriately high musical standards
The Maxine Swalin Award for Outstanding Music Educator recognition and $1000 award honors Maxine Swalin who, along with her husband Dr. Benjamin Swalin, Symphony music director from 1939-1972, raised funds from the General Assembly to establish the children’s concert division in 1945. This program, which continues to bring free live concerts to school children across the state, forms the core of one of the most extensive music education programs conducted by any U.S. orchestra.

The Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement recognition and $500 award is named after the Symphony's former director of education for his longstanding service and commitment to the state's young people. The winner of this award is selected using the same criteria as the Maxine Swalin Award for Outstanding Music Educator.

The North Carolina Symphony Musicians Award recognizes emerging music educators with less than ten years of teaching experience with a $500 award. Music teachers have inspired and influenced Symphony musicians, especially in their early years, encouraging them to pursue their chosen instrument and mentoring them as they became professional musicians. This award is named to honor the musicians of the North Carolina Symphony for their contributions to the children and communities of North Carolina.

In the 2016/17 season, the Symphony is also presenting a special Lifetime Achievement Award to honor the accomplishments and legacy of Phyllis Garriss, lifelong music educator, founder of the Lamar Stringfield Music Camp and Meredith College Faculty Emerita.

The North Carolina Symphony Music Educator Awards are currently supported through an anonymous annual gift.

Nominations for 2018 will be accepted in January, 2018. Please check back on this page.

For more information, contact Sarah Baron at or at 919-789-5461.


Maxine Swalin Award for Outstanding Music Educator
Scott Laird
Fine Arts Coordinator and Instructor of Music, The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham

Scott Laird, a native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, is on the faculty of The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics where he is Fine Arts Coordinator and Instructor of Music. He earned his B.S. in Music Education and his M.A. in Violin Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  He has been an active string educator, clinician, and conductor for over 30 years and his orchestras have been recognized for their superior and musically mature performances. Laird is in demand as a guest conductor, has conducted many honors orchestras throughout the United States, and has presented at numerous regional and national conferences.  In recent years, he has conducted the Vermont, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, and Indiana All State Orchestras and at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.   Laird is the recipient of the 2015 NCSSM Excellence in Teaching Award.  He earned his National Board Certification in 2004 and re-certified in 2013. He has served as President of the NC Chapter of the American String Teachers Association and Chair of the NCMEA Orchestra Section. He has chaired ASTA’s National Committee on School Orchestras and Strings and was Co-Chair of ASTA’s 2013 National Solo Competition. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors for KidZNotes, an El Sistema USA program in Durham, NC.  Laird is an active performer on acoustic and electric violins and is known for his ability to lead and perform in both the classical and improvisatory arena.   In addition, Laird serves as a sponsored artist and educational specialist for D’Addario Bowed Strings, Coda Bows, and NS Design Electric Violins. 

Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement
Elizabeth Lynn McCollum
Director of Orchestras, William G. Enloe Magnet High School, Raleigh

Elizabeth Lynn McCollum received her Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Teaching from Appalachian State University.  She is presently teaching in the Wake County Public School System where she is the Director of Orchestras at William G. Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh, NC.  Prior to her tenure in Wake County, she taught in Jackson County and Watauga County, North Carolina.  McCollum is a member of IIKA National Music Honor Society; her honors include being named the 2004 North Carolina Music Educators’ Orchestra Director of the Year.  McCollum is the current music librarian and Summer Music Camp Scholarship Chair for the North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA) Orchestra Section, is past Chair of the NCMEA Eastern Region, and has served as Chair of the NCMEA Orchestra Section.  She has served on the NCMEA Executive Board and has been on the faculty of Lamar Stringfield Chamber Music Camp, Wake Youth Performing Arts Camp, UNC-G Summer Music Camp, Mars Hill College Music Camp, and Cannon Music Camp.  McCollum is active as an adjudicator and clinician throughout North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.  During her 27 years at Enloe Magnet High School, the orchestra program has grown from one string orchestra and one full orchestra, to four string orchestras and one full orchestra.  Orchestras under her direction have traveled and performed extensively throughout the United States and Canada.

North Carolina Symphony Musicians Award
Lee LaPlace
Teacher and Chorus Director, Banks Road Elementary School, Raleigh

Lee LaPlace is a native of Morehead City, NC who teaches at Banks Road Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C.  She started playing piano at age 7; in middle school she took up the saxophone, and was the inspired by great band directors.  She studied Music Education at Appalachian State University, majoring in saxophone performance with a concentration in elementary education.  After graduating in 2010, she joined the Wake County Public School System.  At Banks Road Elementary, where she has taught since 2012, she teaches 750 to 800 children each year and directs school-wide musical performances at each grade level, including a major Fifth Grade Celebration.  She teaches music from a wide variety of cultures, sometimes with the help of a classroom set of ukuleles.  LaPlace rehearses the school’s chorus of over 70, the Banks Road Boomers, before school twice a week and often after school as well.  The Boomers sing all over the Wake County area, including annual appearances at Fuquay-Varina’s Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting.  For the last three years in a row, LaPlace’s students have been invited to perform in the spring “Pieces of Gold” production, the annual district-wide celebration of the arts in Wake County Public Schools on the stage of Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. In addition to teaching, rehearsing and tirelessly seeking performance opportunities for the children, LaPlace serves on her school’s Leadership Team and as the leader for the school’s specialists.  She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and of the NCMEA.

Special Lifetime Achievement Award
Phyllis Garriss
Meredith College Faculty Emerita and Founder of the Lamar Stringfield Music Camp

In 1979, Phyllis Garriss founded the Lamar Stringfield Music Camp in honor of Lamar Stringfield, founder of the North Carolina Symphony, whose father, Oliver Larkin Stringfield, helped to build Meredith College. The camp began with a vision to provide a meaningful string music experience for children of a variety of ages and playing levels in the context of a nurturing environment. The program also supports local public school string programs and teachers. This year, the camp is adding winds, brass and percussion in order to present a greater variety of repertoire. During the camp, students receive instruction on technique and music theory, a daily orchestra rehearsal and sectional rehearsal and a daily concert by local professionals or advanced students.  Advanced students participate in the Honors Chamber Music Division. Students may also remain at the camp for a popular daily “extended day” experience that includes swimming and recreational fun with the camp counselor staff. Still active as a violin teacher, Ms. Garriss continues to attend the camp each day, providing encouragement while playing violin alongside the youngest students in the “Mozart Orchestra”

Ms. Garriss holds undergraduate degrees from Hastings College and a Mater's degree from Eastman School of Music. Her previous teaching positions include DePauw University and Ball State University. She is a former National Secretary of the American String Teachers Association and a current member of the National Association of Music Education, the American String Teachers Association, Local 500 of the Musicians Association and past-president of the Raleigh Music Club. She performs with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra and the Capital String Ensemble.


Recent Award Recipients

Maxine Swalin Award: Anita Hynus, Orchestra Director, Martin GT Magnet Middle School, Raleigh
Jackson Parkhurst Award:Dr. Jerry Markoch, Director of Bands, Athens Drive High School, Raleigh

Maxine Swalin Award: Marshall Butler Jr., Choral Director, Sanderson High School
Jackson Parkhurst Award: Aram Bryan, Director of Programs, Community School of the Arts

Maxine Swalin Award: Jody L. Gaedtke, Orchestra Teacher, Turrentine Middle School
Jackson Parkhurst Award: Joli Brooks, Orchestra Director, Jacksonville High School

Maxine Swalin Award: Dr. Timothy Babb, Band Director, Mountain Heritage High School, Burnsville
Jackson Parkhurst Award: David Deese, Band Director, East Davidson High School, Thomasville

Maxine Swalin Award: Jonathan Beal, Collettsville School, Collettsville
Jackson Parkhurst Award: Eugene Cottrell, Northwood High School, Pittsboro

Maxine Swalin Award: Judith C. Booth, Northeast Middle School and Albemarle Road Middle School, Charlotte
Jackson Parkhurst Award: Dena Byers, Hillandale Elementary School, Durham

Maxine Swalin Award: Dr. Daniel Hester, J. Glenn Edwards Elementary School, Sanford
Jackson Parkhurst Award: James Brown, Southern Pines

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