TASIS The American School in Switzerland Headmaster Christopher Nikoloff has announced that Melody Tibbits Zanecchia, who has been an Elementary School Music Teacher at TASIS since 2013, is the recipient of the 2019 Khan-Page Master Teacher Award. Mr. Nikoloff announced the selection at the School’s final All-Faculty Meeting on the morning of June 7 and delivered the following citation:
Joy, passion, enthusiasm: these three words describe this individual and her love for teaching and her students.
She initially came to TASIS to work in our Summer Programs and eventually joined the Academic Year team, quickly putting her passion for music education to good use. She was young and enthusiastic and just starting out in her career. She blossomed and grew, taking advantage of professional opportunities with fellow colleagues, collaborating with local musicians, and spending her summers taking professional courses that have helped her expand the Elementary School Music Program.
Music has been an integral part of her life since her childhood. She was raised in a musical family and grew up to become a professional singer who has performed with some of Switzerland’s most successful musicians. Her students have benefitted from the connections she’s made, with 15 members of the Elementary School Choir having the amazing opportunity to record backup vocals for Gotthard’s 12th studio album a few years ago.
If you’ve seen her perform on stage with Gotthard, at the 2015 Expo with alumna Jeanie Cunningham, or with her own band, you know her performances are flawless and appear to be effortless. Her stage charisma is a model that carries over into her teaching, and her students see a true professional. It is a little bit of magic shared throughout the Elementary School, and we find ourselves mesmerized.
She has brought a level of professionalism to the Elementary School Music Program with the implementation of the Orff Approach, the fifth-grade conducting workshop at the annual Spring Arts Festival, a ukelele program for grade 4, and sight reading through the recorder program. She has high standards for her students and not only models excellence but expects it as well—always supporting them and encouraging them to take risks.
Charisma and enthusiasm permeate everything she does, whether it is leading daily classes with students aged 3–11, playing the ukulele during a midday recess, coaching vocal students, serving as the music director for school musicals, or conducting concerts and assemblies. The early exposure our youngest students have to such an outstanding teacher and music program stays with them for a lifetime.
She is a dedicated, compassionate, and caring teacher—an empathetic soul who is highly sensitive to the needs of her students. She truly wants them to succeed academically and socially, and this desire is reflected both in her teaching and in all her interactions with present and former students. When you see her walking around campus, it’s like seeing the Pied Piper strolling along, as she is quickly followed by her many adoring fans.
As a colleague, she is flexible, collaborative, and positive—three traits that reflect her commitment to education. She is also humble. She would never boast or complain about the extensive amounts of work she does for our community—far beyond what she is “contracted” to do. Her commitment is motivated not by recognition, but by her genuine passion for teaching and love for children. It is a true honor to work with her.
Please join me in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Khan-Page Master Teacher Award, Melody Tibbits Zanecchia.
Bestowed annually since 2009, the Khan-Page Master Teacher Award is named after two outstanding teachers who taught for many years in both TASIS schools: the late Akbar Khan in Mathematics and Max P. Page in English. The award recognizes an exceptional teacher who represents a high standard of professional pedagogy, possesses advanced subject-area knowledge, has a capacity to convey the joy and importance of learning to students, and demonstrates a fundamental sympathy with the aims and goals of TASIS as expressed in the Paideia.
The Khan-Page Master Teacher Award is an initiative supported by the M. Crist Fleming Endowment and was proposed by the TASIS Foundation in 2009. The award is funded by the TASIS Board of Directors as part of its broader efforts to support and encourage the faculty as the heart of the TASIS experience and the center of the School’s improvement in the coming years. Candidates may teach in any grade level but must have taught at TASIS for at least five years to be eligible for the Khan-Page Award, which comes with a monetary award of CHF 5,000.
Previous recipients of the award are Chair of the English as an Additional Language Department Carolyn Heard (2009), Art History and Architecture & Design Teacher Mark Aeschliman (2010), retired Chair of the English Department Cynthia Whisenant (2011), French Teacher Brigitte Cazebonne (2012), Physical Education Teacher Giorgio Volpi (2013), Chair of the Middle School Science Department Brett Merritt (2014), Italian Teacher Mario D’Azzo (2015), Science Teacher Amy Bloodworth (2016), Math Teacher Kerry Venchus (2017), and Math and History teacher Patrick Alava (2018).
|Akbar Khan||Max P. Page|