Awards and Recognition

OAKE Recognition Awards

Each Spring, the Organization of American Kodály Educators presents awards in a variety of categories to honor members of the OAKE community and beyond who have made an indelible impact on the Kodály movement in the United States.  

Recognition is awarded in the following categories: 

Outstanding Emerging Educator
Outstanding Educator
Outstanding Administrator
Lifetime Achievement
Outstanding Research

How to make a Nomination:

To nominate an individual for the Outstanding Emerging Educator, Outstanding Educator, Outstanding Administrator, or Lifetime Achievement award, two letters of recommendation are required. Both nominators must be current OAKE members.

To nominate an individual or research team for any of the Outstanding Research Awards, submit at least one example of their research (e.g., a published journal article or a dissertation). Self-nominations are accepted, and at least one researcher must be a current OAKE member.

Please see below for additional information for each award.

Important Information for Nominations: 

The awards presentation ceremony takes place during the OAKE National Conference. Either the award recipient or a representative for the recipient must be present at the ceremony to receive the award. 

OAKE reserves the right to not always present an award in each category every year. 

Applications can be submitted at any point throughout the year, however, only applications submitted by the fall deadline are eligible to be awarded at the following calendar-year’s National Conference.

Outstanding Emerging Educator Award

The purpose of the OAKE Outstanding Emerging Educator Award is to acknowledge an individual’s successful application of Kodály-inspired teaching practices and to develop and promote leadership at the local, divisional, and national levels. The Outstanding Emerging Educator Award is given to an OAKE member with 3-10 years of teaching experience who exemplifies the mission and vision of OAKE to support music education of the highest quality, promote universal music literacy, and lifelong music making by: (1) demonstrating active participation in their local OAKE chapter; (2) achieving high standards as a musician/educator; and (3) completing an OAKE-Endorsed teacher education program, or, completing diploma study at the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Hungary.

Outstanding Educator

The OAKE Outstanding Educator Award is given to an OAKE member who, after having received formal training in Kodály education, has demonstrated years of superior music teaching in which the Kodály philosophy has been used extensively and has produced students who exhibit outstanding skills that were developed through the use of Kodály techniques.

Outstanding Administrator

The OAKE Outstanding Administrator Award is given to a school principal, superintendent, or music supervisor who has demonstrated an appreciation for the value of the Kodály philosophy by creating an environment in which Kodály music education can thrive and has provided tangible support for the Kodály music program and the Kodály teachers in his or her school(s). The recipient of this award does not have to be a member of OAKE.

Lifetime Achievement

The OAKE Lifetime Achievement Award is given to the rare person whose impact upon Kodály music education transcends that of what might be considered an outstanding educator, administrator, or researcher. This person has made such an extensive, far-reaching impact that, over time, his or her influence has left and indelible mark upon the state of American Kodály music education.

Outstanding Research Award

The purpose of the OAKE Outstanding Research Award is to encourage research concerning the Kodály philosophy of music education through the recognition of the best of such research conducted at all levels.  

Award Levels:

    • The Erzsébet Szőnyi Academic Award: Outstanding research by a college/university professor or research team (where collaborators are involved).
    • The Alexander Ringer Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research.
    • The László Eősze Professional and Non-Doctoral Award: Outstanding research by a practitioner, graduate student, or research team (where collaborators are involved).


    • The author of the research must be a member of OAKE.  If the research has multiple authors, at least one must be a member of OAKE.
    • The research must make a contribution to the understanding and/or practice of Kodály music education.
    • Research nominated at the Academic level must have been published in the academic year prior to the nomination deadline.  Doctoral dissertations should have been completed during the academic year prior to the nomination deadline. Professional and Non-Doctoral research must have been completed in the academic year prior to the nomination deadline.

Nomination Process:

    • Research will be nominated by submission to the committee.    
    • Nominations must be submitted electronically in .pdf or Microsoft Word .doc format.  
    • The preference of the committee is that nominations adhere to the submission policies of the Envoy found on the Kodály Envoy page on the OAKE website.  Nominations that have been previously published in other sources may follow the publication guidelines of their respective publishers.

Selection Process:

All nominations will be double-blind reviewed by a committee of three people with doctoral degrees, each with extensive background in the Kodály philosophy of music education.


The nominated research will be judged and the winner(s) selected using a set of criteria, to include:

      • Content (philosophy, scholarship, accuracy, relevance, currency, need for topic).
      • Style (sentence construction, grammar, interest, clarity, freedom from verbosity).
      • Significance (the research highlights issues of importance from theoretical, policy, or practical terms).

Nomination deadline: September 1st

OAKE Award Recipients

Outstanding Emerging Educator

Anne Cohen (2018)
Christopher Keene (2019)
Larena Code (2022)
Sarah Tullock (2022)
Dillon Downey (2023)


Outstanding Educator

Sr. Lorna Zemke (1985)
Eleanor Locke (1986)
Mary Helen Richards (1987)
Helen Bryan (1987)
Sr. Mary Alice Hein (1988)
Denise Bacon (1989)
Jean Sinor (1990)
Michael Murray (1991)
Katinka Daniel (1992)
Mary Goetze (1993)

Gene Okerlund (1994)
David Falconer (1995)
Pam Wade (1997)
Ruth Boshkoff (1998)
Martha Rosacker (1999)
Lamar Robertson (2000)
Betsy Moll (2001)
Christine Jordanoff (2002)
Jill Trinka (2003)
Jerry Jaccard (2004)

Sandra Mathias (2006)
Diane Geller (2006)
John Feierabend (2007)
Anne Laskey (2008)
Joan Litman (2009)
Constance Price (2010)
Cecile Johnson (2012)
Donald Garrett (2014)
Susan Garrett (2014)
Karen Shuford (2014)

Susan Glass (2015)
Gemma Arguelles (2017)
Katherine Hickey (2018)
Sandra Knudson (2018)
Brent Gault (2019)
Carol Brown (2020)
Jeanne Wohlgamuth (2020)
Bruce Swank (2024)
Julie Swank (2024)

Outstanding Administrator

Mary Ozanne (1995)
Lois Choksy (1996)
Paul Hillyer (1998)
Ursina Swanson (2001)
John May (2002)
Gerardo Gloria (2002)

Cheryl Paschke (2003)
William Dederer (2004)
Marilyn Brooks (2007)
Edith Barton (2009)
William Ray (2010)
Kathy Kuddes (2010)

Todd Billings (2012)
Linda Hulsey (2014)
Brad Benson (2018)
Lynn Roseberry (2019)
Lee Harris (2022)
Shawn Chastain (2024)

Lifetime Achievement

Sr. Lorna Zemke (1988)
Alexander Ringer (1998)
Denise Bacon (2000)
Jean Sinor (posthumous) (2000)
Katinka Daniel (2001)
Sr. Mary Alice Hein (2001)
Sr. Lorna Zemke (2002)
Lois Choksy (2009)

Betty Bertaux (2011)
Lamar Robertson (2012)
Laurdella Foulkes-Levy (2014)
Christine Jordanoff (2014)
Betsy Moll (2014)
Rita Klinger (posthumous) (2014)
Micheál Houlahan (2016)
Philip Tacka (2016)

Ivy Rawlins Ward (2017)
Jonathan Rappaport (2017)
Ruth Boshkoff (2017)
Sarolta Kodály (2017)
Gail Needleman (2018)
Joy Nelson (2018)
Ruth Dwyer (2019)
Péter Erdei (2019)

Igó Lenke (2020)
Lilla Gábor (2022)
Jerry Jaccard (2022)
Ann Eisen (2023)
Anne Laskey (2023)
Betty Hillmon (2024)
Joan Litman (2024)

Outstanding Research

Recipients of the Alexander Ringer Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research:
Casey Gerber (2011)
Paul Baumann (2011)
Mary Allmon Epstein (2014)
Daniel Todd (2015)
Christina L. Svec (2016)
Sebastian A. Haboczki (2020)

Recipients of the Lászlo Eösze Professional Research Award:
Emily Mason (Doctoral, 2009)
Christopher Roberts (Professional, 2009)


Dr. Alexander Ringer (1921-2002) was an American research musicologist of Dutch and Polish descent who survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and became an internationally known advocate for promoting Zoltán Kodály’s ideals, philosophy, and pedagogic practices, most notably in New Haven, CT, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Eastman School of Music, Tel Aviv University, and Heidelberg University, among others.  He received a M.A. in Sociology and Psychology (1948) and a Ph.D. in Musicology (1955).  Dr. Ringer was active in the American Musicological Society, College Music Society, Organization of American Kodály Educators, International Kodály Society, Music Educators National Conference, Music Library Association, numerous international musicological societies, Society of Ethnomusicology, and the International Folk Music Council.  Dr. Ringer and Isaac Stern established the New Haven Kodály group – based on their collaborations with Zoltán Kodály in the mid-1960s – and five years before the founding of the Organization of American Educators.  At professor Ringer’s instigation, Erzsébet Szönyi and Sister Mary Alice Hein assisted in founding the International Kodály Society at the 2nd International Kodály Symposium in Kecskemét, Hungary.  He was also chair of the Musicology Division at the University of Illinois, serving undergraduate and graduate musicology students and faculty until his retirement in 1991.


Erzsébet Szönyi (1923-2019), student of Zoltán Kodály and one of his most important and long-time collaborators, worked tirelessly for the most authentic transmission and high-quality application of Zoltán Kodály’s artistic and pedagogical principles.  She also studied with Nadia Boulanger and Oliver Messiaen at the Conservatoire in Paris and was a leading professor at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest in solfege, composition, conducting, and music education for more than two decades.  Her four volumes of Musical Reading and Writing were published in 1954 and, together with her numerous choral compositions, continue to be used internationally in Kodály Teacher Education programs.


Dr. László Eösze (1923-2020) was a musicologist, pianist, composer, and one of the defining figures in Hungarian music publishing in the 20th century.  In addition to his outstanding work, Zoltán Kodály His Life in Pictures and Documents (1971), professor Eösze was admired for his kind personality and voluminous lifework as an exemplary representative of eternal human values and Hungarian integrity.  In his publications of primary source-quality books, essays, articles on Kodály, and with his public activity pursued in the spirit of Kodály, he made visible a synthesis of Kodály’s spiritual heritage as a composer, music pedagogue and educator of the nation, and his message which is adaptable for the whole world.  He was the first Executive Secretary of the International Kodály Society, serving for twenty years.

See: Musicologist László Eösze passed away.