Neshawn Calloway of CCA is a 2020 CMA Music Teacher of Excellence
Posted on 04/02/2020
Photo: Neshawn Calloway in her class at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative ArtsNeshawn Calloway, a vocal music teacher at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts (CCA), is the recipient of a 2020 CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence honor. The CMA Foundation, the national music education nonprofit and philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, plans to honor Calloway and 29 other teachers from across the country at its fifth annual Music Teacher of Excellence event in May.

Calloway is in her 24th year of teaching and her 19th at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts. She taught her first five years at Chattanooga State. Calloway is the vocal music instructor and conducts six vocal ensembles at CCA.

“One of the many highlights of teaching music is that I not only get to share what I love on a daily basis with students, but I also get to see many of them succeed in music careers beyond CCA,” said Calloway.

The CMA invite-only event planned for May 5, 2020, in Nashville will honor the music educators from across the country for their passion and commitment to music education in their classroom and throughout their school community. The CMA Foundation created the Music Teachers of Excellence program in 2016 to recognize the best and brightest music teachers from Nashville and beyond. CMA selects the award recipients because of their dedication to bringing a quality music program to students and the impact they have on their school community through music.

“Music education is an essential component to a well-rounded education and helps students achieve academic success in other subjects,” said Tiffany Kerns, executive director, CMA Foundation. “The Music Teachers of Excellence program allows us to celebrate the passion and commitment that these 30 educators show each year as they work tirelessly to shape our country’s future leaders.”

“Neshawn infuses her classroom with an array of music that tells the stories of our culture as well as our history through the use of songs,” said Debbie Smith, principal, Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts. “Her classroom is a place where visitors gravitate and where her students thrive under her guidance as a master teacher.”

In addition to a night of celebration, this year, the CMA Foundation will invest a total of $150,000 to support both personal and professional expenses related to recipients’ music programs to help drive their commitment and motivation forward.

“I am a music teacher because someone recognized and cultivated my musical gifts growing up, and I get to do the same with my students,” added Calloway. “I am fortunate that I get to teach my students for seven years, and it is amazing to watch them grow not only musically but also personally.”

Calloway is the second music educator from Hamilton County Schools to be honored by the CMA Foundation with a Music Teacher of Excellence award in the last two years. Joel Denton, a retired band director from Ooltewah High School, received the honor in 2018.

Photo: Neshawn Calloway in her class at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts

CMA Music Teacher of Excellence Video

About the CMA Foundation

Established in 2011 as the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association (CMA), the CMA Foundation is committed to improving and sustaining music education programs across the United States, working to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in music education. Through strategic partnerships, professional development, and grant distribution, the CMA Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), has invested more than $27 million across the national public school system, after school programs, summer camps, and community outreach organizations. Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, proceeds from CMA Fest, the four-day long music festival held annually in Nashville, are used to power the CMA Foundation’s social impact and unique model of giving. For more information, visit