DESOTO, Texas — Pamela Dawson is the director of DeSoto High School’s choir program.
In her 16-year tenure, she’s always put her students first.
But this year, the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum put her first.
After being nominated for a second time, Dawson has won the 2023 Grammy Music Educator Award.
The award, according to a district press release, recognizes educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the music education field, and demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. Each year, one recipient is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students' lives.
The award is a testament to the hard work, dedication and mentorship Dawson’s provided over the years, the district said.
“I believe that the Grammy Foundation did a thorough research of what we’ve provided as far as qualifications to be a finalist,” said Dawson about her nomination submission this go-around.
“What I spoke about what I pour into my kids, especially this year dealing with mental health, was a deciding factor in me getting this award. I am so honored that the Grammy Museum and The Recording Academy for finding me worthy of receiving this honor.”
Dawson built the choir program into a national powerhouse, the district added, having traveled and won numerous competitions around the world.
The students have performed at Carnegie Hall and at the Southwestern American Choral Directors Association (SWACDA) national honor choir.
Locally, the district said, her choirs have been a regular feature for the Dallas Black Dance Theater’s Dance Africa event.
Some of her former students, the district said, are even on Broadway.
But Dawson has always remained humble.
“What I think my students really realize now is that what I’ve been doing has always been for them and not about me,” she said when asked about her prestigious award.
DeSoto, the district said in its statement, is one of the top-rated school systems in the Dallas/Fort Worth area according to recent Texas Education Agency accountability ratings. The district’s last three graduating classes have obtained roughly $15M in college scholarships on average — the result of expansive Career and Technical Education, STEM and early childhood education programs rooted in developing literacy and numeracy skills in young learners.
“DeSoto ISD is proud to acknowledge the work of Pam Dawson in her attainment of this recent achievement,” DeSoto ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Usamah Rodgers said in a statement.
“Her commitment to excellence and positive impact to students’ lives is demonstrative of what makes this such an amazing school community — the embodiment of the DeSoto difference.”
Dawson is a native of Detroit, and in addition to her duties as a teacher, vocalist and musician, is also a proud mother and grandmother.