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Missouri’s Outstanding Music Educator is EU grad Mark Lawley

Published on Mar 21, 2018 by Evangel University News

Each year, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) presents an Outstanding Music Educator’s Award of the Year to one recipient in each state.

Evangel University graduate Mark Lawley was honored to be named the Missouri award recipient for 2017-2018 earlier this semester, having been nominated by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Lawley earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Evangel University in 1989, and throughout his career, he has served Missouri’s music community in enough ways to fill a 10-page vitae.

He currently serves as the director of choirs and chair of the Fine Arts Department at New Covenant Academy in Springfield.

“Mark is widely recognized for his work as the director of choirs at Willard High School for 17 years; director of music education at Drury University for four years; and as artistic director for the Boys Choir of Springfield,” said Dr. Vickie Wisdom, associate professor of theatre at Evangel and his predecessor at New Covenant.

2018 Mark Lawley with students at Piano
Mark Lawley conducts. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Passion for students

Now 33 years into his career, Lawley couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“This is without a doubt God’s plan for my life,” he said.

“I love everything about teaching and schools. I love the fresh coat of wax on the floor, I love pens and pencils, the sweet sound a gradebook makes when you open it for the first time……….bliss! Of course what I love most are the students.

“I love looking over a classroom full of students and being in awe of God. I see before me so many different versions of His beautiful creation — each with their own perspective, thoughts and intelligence they bring to the classroom,” he added.

2018 Mark Lawley with two students
Mark Lawley instructs. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)


High points of his career include:

  • The 2011 Carnegie Hall Solo Concert in New York City, by the Willard High School Chamber Choir; and,
  • The 2005 San Francisco Choral Festival in California, where the Willard H.S. Chamber Choir won the Gold Medal.

In addition, Lawley’s groups have been honored to perform at:

  • Two national American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Conventions, in 2003 in New York City and 2007 in Miami;
  • The 2000 National Association for Music Education Convention in Washington D.C.;
  • The 2008 Southwestern Regional ACDA performance in Kansas City; and,
  • Seven invitational performances for the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA).

Lawley holds a master’s degree in choral conducting degree from Missouri State University. Active in leadership, he is past president of the Southwestern ACDA, the Missouri ACDA, the South Central MMEA, and he served on the executive board of the MMEA.

Through it all, Lawley continues to serve as a frequent guest conductor and clinician for Honor Choirs in Missouri, Kansas, Florida and Arkansas.

Lawley was presented the Outstanding Music Educator’s Award of the Year on Jan 25, during the Second General Session of the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach.


Since 1920, the National Federation of State High School Associations has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and activities — including music, speech, debate, and theatre programs — that help students succeed in their lives.

The NFHS establishes consistent standards and rules for competition, and help those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS provides a variety of program initiatives that reach the 18,500 high schools and over 11 million students involved in athletic and activity programs.

Musical excellence at Evangel

The Department of Music at Evangel University offers majors in music education, music performance, recording technology and worship leadership. The department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and the Missouri Association of Departments & Schools of Music.

For more information, visit or contact the Music Department at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7212.


WRITTEN BY: Nate Samson & Paul K. Logsdon