TROY—The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has named Dr. John M. Long, director of bands emeritus at Troy University, as one of 10 winners of the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards.
The awards were announced on Thursday, March 22—Sondheim's birthday. Teachers were selected for their exceptional influence on students and only former students can nominate candidates for the award. Seventeen of Dr. Long's former students from Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery and Troy University submitted letters of nomination. Each recipient receives a $10,000 cash award.
"It was a real honor to get this award," Dr. Long said. "I was excited to hear about it. All I ever wanted to be was a teacher and I am humbled to receive this recognition.
The Sondheim Award marks the second major honor for Long this month. Earlier in March, he was named an Honorary Life Member of the American Bandmasters Association, one of only two living bandmasters to hold this distinction.
Dr. Long, a native of Guntersville who served as director of bands at TROY from 1965-1996, is a past president of the American Bandmasters Association and is a member of the National Band Association's Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors and the Alabama Bandmasters Hall of Fame. In 2010, Dr. Long was named as honorary president of the National Band Association, and last July was the subject of a feature piece for CBS Evening News on his continued involvement as conductor of the Southeast Alabama Community Band.
The annual Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards publicly recognize specific teachers by spotlighting their extraordinary impact on the lives of students, according to the Center's website. The Awards celebrate the teaching profession, the important role of teachers in society, and seek to inspire others to pursue this noble profession.
Sondheim has received more Tony Awards than any other composer and he also won a Pulitzer Prize for the music and lyrics for "Sunday in the Park With George." He wrote the scores fro some of the best-known works in American music theater, including "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "A Little Night Music" and "Sweeny Todd."