MSMS Music Teacher in Line for National Award

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — An educator from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science has been named a quarter-finalist for a new award to be presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

Dawn Barham, a music teacher who has been an educator for more than 20 years at the Mississippi School of Math and Science has been named a quarter-finalist for the Music Educator Award.

She is one of  217 music educators in America who were chosen out 30,000 nominees for the honor. Being the only teacher in Mississippi to be among the quarter-finalists, Barham says she was honored after some of her former students nominated her for the award.

“I knew going in that there are highly successful music teachers throughout the country we have Mr. Hollis Opus and all these other people so thrilled really and shocked. I think the key is loving what I do I never get up and dread when my feet hit the floor in the morning,” says Barham.

The semifinalists will be announced in August and the winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award and attend the Grammy ceremony.

“I feel humbly honored,” said Barham upon learning of her status as a quarterfinalist. “I feel fortunate to be in a community of learners that values making music. I have always enjoyed the support of my colleagues, parents and administration at MSMS. This honor really belongs to all of us!”

Barham has been teaching music for 24 years, 20 of those years have been at MSMS. At the school, she teaches several classes, including Orchestra, Choir, Guitar, Guitar Performance, Drama and Songwriting.

While MSMS is known primarily for showing excellence in the fields of mathematics and science education, the arts and humanities have always been a big part of what makes the school so successful.

“I am of the very strong opinion that music is worthy in and of itself as a discipline,” said Barham. “People should study music for music’s sake. In English, Mathematics, and Science, we have a system of symbols, letters and numbers that help us understand our universe; therefore, we value and hold them in high regard. Music has a system created by us also. To not study music is to diminish our humanity. Music at MSMS is a no-brainer! Our students get it!”

Barham, a native of West Point, Miss., holds a Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. When she isn’t teaching at MSMS, Barham can often be found playing with her band “The Juke-Joint Gypsies” as well as performing regular solo acts across the region. June 6 she will be performing at the “Sounds of Summer” in Columbus, Miss.

According to, “The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators – K-College in both public and private schools – who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools.”

Of the 217 quarterfinalists, ten finalists will be chosen. During the Nov. 2014 Grammy Week, one winner of the ten finalists will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The remaining nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

Semi-finalists will be announced in August. Visit for more information.

Located in Columbus, Miss. on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women, MSMS is the state’s only public, residential high school specifically designed to meet the needs of Mississippi’s most academically gifted students. Students who attend the school spend their junior and senior years living on the school’s campus and engaging in college level classes in mathematics, science, the humanities and the arts.

Recently, the publications Newsweek and The Daily Beast named MSMS as one of the best high schools in America. The recently graduated class of 2013 alone was offered more than $13.6 million in scholarship opportunities.



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