Richard Nickerson, director of choral activities at Windham High School, has been nominated for the 2017 Music Educator Award, created by the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation to recognize “educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education.”

He has taught at Windham for 30 years, and is among 25 music educators nationwide who advanced to the semifinal round of the award process. He also was nominated in 2013, the first year it was awarded, and advanced to the quarterfinals. Ten finalists will be announced in December, and the winner will be recognized during Grammy week and will attend the 59th Grammy Awards ceremony on Feb. 12.

“I was kind of shocked,” Nickerson said Monday night. “The number of people who are nominated, and to be in the top 25, that is very humbling for me. I work with some incredible teachers. To represent those in our field is really quite an honor.”

At Windham, Nickerson conducts three choirs, teaches music courses and serves as music coordinator for the district. He’s been named Maine Music Educator of the Year, Maine Distinguished Choral Director of the Year and was runner-up for Maine Teacher of the Year.

Choral Director Magazine named him one of 10 “Choral Directors of Note” in the United States.

After he received his doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Missouri, Nickerson thought he would leave Windham to teach at the college level.


Ultimately, he decided he wanted to stay in Windham at the high school level. “Honestly, I feel this is where I am supposed to be. Working with high school kids is my gift,” he said.

One of his choirs just completed a tribute concert to the rock band Queen, and he has begun preparing his singers for a holiday concert on Dec. 3. Being able to move from the music of Queen to holiday songs is one of the things he loves most about his job.

“I am fortunate to work in an environment where I am able to take chances. We don’t do the same thing all the time,” he said. “And I have a supportive community. The tribute to Queen was packed, mobbed – and it was so far out of the box from what we would normally do.”

In addition to his duties at school, Nickerson is minister of music at North Windham Union Church.

He and his family live in Windham.


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