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2019 Educators of the Year: Andrea Whitcomb, Chiyo Trauernicht, Scott Rabehl

Congratulations to Schmitt Music’s 2018-2019 EDUCATORS OF THE YEAR: Andrea Whitcomb, Chiyo Trauernicht, and Scott Rabehl!

In an effort to recognize the work of outstanding school music educators in the Midwest, Schmitt Music and the SDC (Schmitt Director Center) set out to find the best of the best. We honor exceptional educators in three categories: elementary, middle school, and high school.

A big THANK YOU to all the music education colleagues and students who took time to nominate and recognize teachers in their schools. All of our deserving nominees show a dedication to music education that is truly inspirational. Get to know a bit about the 2019 Educator of the Year award winners below:

Andrea Whitcomb

Lincoln Elementary | Anoka, MN

Anja MerzweilerAndrea Whitcomb is the Music Specialist at Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts in Anoka, MN, where she teaches K-5 general music, as well as 4th and 5th grade band, orchestra, and choir. So far in her 19 years in the classroom, she has experience teaching 4-12 instrumental music (band/orchestra), K-5 choir, and general music. She is the Music Director for Lincoln’s theatre program, and is also an adjunct professor with Bemidji State University, team teaching online arts courses for future educators.

Andrea holds a B.M. in Music Education from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and an M.Ed. degree from St. Mary’s University. She has studied Orff and earned her Kodály certification at the University of St. Thomas and has completed the ACE Dance Program at the Perpich Center for the Arts. Her integrated approach to music education, and her passion to collaborate with classroom teachers, bring multiple content areas together for her students and offers them a chance to make connections across the curriculum.

Family comes first for Andrea, and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, Brady, and two sons, Sebastian and Lachlan. When they aren’t busy with concerts, plays, Boy Scouts, piano lessons, and exploring the U.S. in their camper, they can be found hanging out at home with their three dogs, watching movies and playing games.

Chiyo Trauernicht

Otte-Blair Middle School | Blair, NE

Chiyo TrauernichtChiyo Trauernicht, a native of Chiba, Japan, is the Seventh and Eighth Grade Band Director at Otte-Blair Middle School in Blair, Nebraska, since 2007. Under Trauernicht’s direction, both seventh and eighth grade bands have consistently received superior ratings at contests. She is the coordinator of the annual Blair Middle School Honor Band Festival, which hosts over 230 students from more than 60 schools. She has received the NSBA Jack R. Snider Young Band Director Award in 2012 and the NMEA Bryan R. Johnson Distinguished Service Award in 2017. She has served as middle level chairs for Nebraska Bandmasters Association and Nebraska Music Education Association, and currently the President-Elect of NSBA. Trauernicht was selected to represent Nebraska in 20th annual “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” issue of School Band and Orchestra Magazine in 2017.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Arts degree in History from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. She has completed the music teaching certification program at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Trauernicht earned a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting from the American Band College of Sam Houston State University. Her teaching background includes teaching English at Gauss Private School in Tokyo, teaching Japanese courses at University of Nebraska at Kearney, assisting in special education classrooms at Beatrice State Developmental Center, and teaching elementary general music at Catholic School in Holdrege, Nebraska.

She is actively involved in music, playing the flute and piccolo in numerous organizations such as the Omaha Symphony, Omaha Conservatory of Music/Opera Omaha, Omaha Symphonic Winds, Orchestra Omaha, Blair Area Community Band, and Nebraska Wind Symphony. She resides in Bennington, Nebraska with her husband Brian and their singing dogs Charlie and Callie.

Scott Rabehl

Buffalo High School | Buffalo, MN

Scott RabehlScott Rabehl has been teaching at Buffalo Senior High School for fifteen years where he directs concert bands, jazz ensembles, pep bands and the summer marching band. He also teaches courses in The History of Western Music and Advanced Placement Music Theory.

Before taking his position at BHS, Mr. Rabehl taught for eight years at Maple Grove Junior High in the Osseo School District and for two years at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School. He has been recognized as the ACDA Outstanding Young Band Director for the State of Minnesota, directed a number of honor bands throughout the state, and led ensembles from both Maple Grove Junior High and Buffalo High School in MMEA Mid-Winter Clinic performances.

He is currently serving as a Region Representative to the Minnesota Music Educators Association Board of Directors. His college education includes a B.S. in Music Education from St. Cloud State University, an M.Ed. from St. Mary’s University and both a B.S. in Business and an M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota.

He lives in St. Michael with his wife Lori and son Mitchell (17) and has a daughter (19) Mallory attending Concordia College in Moorhead.


Again, Schmitt Music would like to say thank you to everyone who participated, and congratulations to all of the educators who were nominated in 2018-2019:


  • Aundrea Kinziger
  • Molly Jones
  • Karen Merseth
  • Joe Brough
  • Libby Orf
  • Sarah Hruska-Olson

Middle School

  • Gary Pederson
  • Daniel Mollick
  • Molly Jones
  • Joan Draxler-Ruff
  • Andy Schmidt
  • Matt Lamb
  • Jesse Miller
  • Phill Erickson
  • Ali Hoffman
  • Beth Myers
  • Ross Reishus
  • Gerry Murphy
  • Ann Bakken
  • Wendy Hanson
  • Kevin Szumal
  • Victoria Groethe
  • Sabrina Olson
  • Matt Knutson
  • Nicholas Spath

High School

  • Nicholas Gaudette
  • Jim Aerts
  • Jeff Dasovick
  • Rachael Kramer
  • Alison Mastny
  • Adam Reimer
  • AJ Powell
  • Amy Powers
  • Sheri Janovick
  • Ken Ahlberg
  • Joe Kasparek
  • Matt Caron
  • Mark Mendell
  • Amy Dahl
  • Adam Bassak
  • Maria Hagan
  • Todd Boyd
  • Corey Desens
  • John Knutson
  • Barry Zumwalde
  • Elizabeth Winslow
  • Christa Saeger-Dean
  • Stephanie Wranek
  • Lindsey Bogatz
  • Amanda Kaus
  • Jessie Christian
  • Larissa Donnelly
  • Kevin Peterson
  • Reida Forsman
  • Janet Moe
  • Isaac McMahon
  • Matthew Tiller
  • Paul Johnson
  • Daniel Tucke
  • Markus Hahn
  • Pat Moriarty
  • Katie Hauser
  • Molly Malone
  • Nora Tycast
  • Lesley Earles
  • Greg Douma
  • Logan Burnside
  • Jeffery Muller
  • Susan Micevych