Two Kent State Alumni Nominated for Art and Music Educator of the Year

Visual arts teacher Stephen Tornero and choir director Mary Meese and are among the finalists for the 2022 Stark County Art and Music Educator Awards. Both are alumni of Kent State’s College of the Arts.

Presented jointly by the Canton Symphony, the Massillon Museum, and the Canton Museum of Art, the awards recognize public, private, and parochial art and music educators via nominations through the Stark County Educational Service Center and the Canton Symphony Orchestra. The awards seek to uphold educators who have positively impacted their students and communities and who have shown great dedication to the fields of Art or Music Education.

Tornero teaches art for 7th and 8th-grade students at Oakwood Middle School in the Plain Local School District and has been teaching for 13 years. In addition to pedagogy, he is an avid weaver and makes tote bags, wall hangings, and other textile products. He strives to keep a balance between his two passions: creating artwork and helping foster creativity in future generations.

On a Canton Museum of Art’s Facebook post, Tornero’s nominator said, “Stephen instills a lifelong appreciation of art for his students through his own example. Stephen exemplifies how an artist has a responsibility to educate and cultivate his own art. His commitment to art education goes above and beyond the classroom walls. Stephen works closely with area art educators to create opportunities and shows for students to display and compete with their works of art.”

Meese received her Bachelor’s in Music Education and her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Fine Arts from Kent State. For more than 20 years she has served as one of the two high school choral directors at GlenOak High School in the Plain Local School District. She has choreographed more than 50 musical productions for GlenOak High School in addition to choreographing for numerous Stark County middle and high schools. She is responsible for the GlenOak High School’s Women’s Chorus, Notables, Mixed Choir, and Treble Chorus as well as sections of 5th and 6th-grade choir at Glenwood Intermediate. Meese has also worked as a private voice instructor for students in the Stark County area.

In a Facebook post featuring her nomination, the Canton Symphony said, “Mary Meese has shared her love of music with hundreds of students over her extensive career as an educator. She has the ability to connect with students from all backgrounds, diversities and levels of ability. Her students know that she has high expectations for success, as anything less than the best of their ability is not acceptable. Through her daily interactions with students, she demonstrates grace, care and decency, and she continues to set the example.”

See all 2022 nominees below. 

Art Educator of the Year:

  • Matthew J. Ferrell - Massillon City Schools
  • Candice Greene - North Canton Schools
  • Brian Poetter - Jackson Local Schools
  • Susan Rusu - Perry Local Schools
  • Stephen Tornero - Plain Local Schools

Music Educator of the Year:

  • Sonya Ash – North Canton City Schools
  • Jessica Bell – Plain Local School
  • Mary Meese – Plain Local Schools
  • Beth Polen – Perry Local Schools
  • Ron Varn – North Canton City Schools

Winners will be announced on March 5, 2022 during a Canton Symphony Orchestra concert.

Learn more about Music study at Kent State.

Learn more about Art study at Kent State.

POSTED: Thursday, March 3, 2022 10:42 AM
UPDATED: Saturday, July 20, 2024 02:11 PM
Joseph Rush, writing intern