Skyline Director of Vocal Music Lindsay CieChanski is named UMS/DTE Educator of the Year

Lindsay Ciechanski says if she had had any idea she would be named the UMS/DTE Educator of the Year for 2023, she never would have worn her baggy holiday sweatshirt from 1992 on Wednesday. 

That’s how surprised she was.

But it was no surprise to those who know her exceptional work as Skyline High School’s Director of Vocal Music.

“Lindsay CieChanski—or ‘Mrs. Cie’ as she is known to her students—is an absolute powerhouse of a choir instructor,” says Annemarie Dolan,  whose children have gone through Lyn’s choral program and been members of Skyline Blues. “Lyn’s choral program is simultaneously rigorous and accessible.”

Every year University Musical Society (UMS) and DTE present the Educator of the Year award to a teacher who supports a culture of the arts in their classroom. 

The purpose of the award is to celebrate excellence in arts education by honoring educators who value the importance of the arts in teaching  21st-century knowledge and skills, including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and familiarity with local and global cultures; who create a culture for the arts to flourish in their school communities; or use the arts to inspire, energize, and challenge the limits of their classrooms. 

Casey Elmore says Skyline choirs are renowned across the nation because of CieChanski.

“She has students coming to Skyline specifically to learn from her,” said Elmore.

“The bottom line is she really cares about kids, and she really does an amazing job teaching them about choir and how to be better singers, but also about life and she builds great relationships with them. And We are beyond lucky to have her here at Skyline.”

Dolan says that without a doubt, Cie is the teacher that both of her children consider to have had the biggest impact on their high school education and in fact, their futures.

“Each started with a great interest in music but both will readily claim that Mrs. Cie taught them the core of what they know about ensemble singing and performance,” she says. “Not only did she expand their musical skillsets through her choirs and a cappella group, but she inspired both of them to pursue higher education in music with my son currently a Bachelor of Music student at U-M, and my daughter in the process of applying to collegiate music/musical theatre programs. Should they continue into careers in music, I assure you Lindsay CieChanski will be the teacher both name as the educator who helped them grow from music lovers into musicians.”

CieChanski was surprised with the award at the end of a Professional Development session on Wednesday.

CieChanski graduated from the University of Michigan in 2002 with a dual major in Voice Performance and Choral Music Education and a minor in Music Theory/Musicology and completed her Master’s Degree in Music Education in 2007, also from U of M. CieChanski was previously the director at Henry Ford II High School and has directed concerts at Findlay High School and several middle schools including Scarlett Middle School. 

CieChanski conducted the MSVMA SSAA HS State Honors Choir in 2023, the SSA Choir at Blue Lake in 2013, and was the Co-Director for the Vocal Music Camp at Wolverine Camps. Additionally, she enjoys presenting in and attending state conferences and recently concluded her time on the Executive Board for MSVMA as the Director of Specialized Events. She has led Skyline’s choirs to successful performances at Solo and Ensemble, State Solo and Ensemble, Choral Festival, and State Choral Festival, as well as ACDA Michigan Conference and the Michigan Music Conference’s Choral Hour. Bel Canto Treble Choir and A Cappella Mixed Choir are frequently featured in performances with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and at Invitational events at UofM, MSU, and EMU.

Skyline choirs have participated in performance tours in Italy, Ireland, Austria, Prague, and Spain and attend a week-long choir camp at Interlochen Center for the Arts each summer. Skyline Blues, Skyline’s competitive A Cappella ensemble, consistently places in the top 3 in their division of ICHSA and earned the First-Runner Up award at ICHSA Finals in 2019. 

CieChanski and her husband Ryan are the parents of Maryn, Jay, and Cameron. 

AAPS Fine Arts Coordinator Robin Bailey was thrilled to learn that CieChanski had won the award, which was presented at the close of a Professional Development session Wednesday afternoon, and led to a standing ovation.

“She’s an incredibly talented musician; an incredibly talented teacher,” said Bailey. “Her students are just so fortunate to have her. She creates community in her classroom while upstanding high musical standards for all.”

The award includes funding for a field trip for her students to a UMS performance or educational event, four complimentary tickets to a UMS performance, and $250.

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