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North Hills Monthly

Local Music Teacher on a Path to the Grammys

Aug 29, 2014 08:58PM ● By Veronica Tucker
She might not have predicted that a career in education could lead to her very own Grammy award, but Kelly Winovich, choral director at Northgate Middle/Senior High School, has been on this journey since a young age.

As a child, Winovich was trained in piano, voice and flute as well as dance and gymnastics. Blessed with a generous and talented musical family who exposed her to many aspects of the fine arts, she found her own niche in the field. “Music is my life and my passion,” she explained, “and now I have the opportunity to share that love of music with my incredible students at Northgate.”

Dr. Joseph Pasquerilla, superintendent of schools for Northgate School District, sings the praises of Winovich. “For 15 years, she has kept the flame burning by showcasing the fine arts at Northgate School District,” he said. “As an artist, she inspires and recognizes those students who have a natural gift for the arts, and guides those that may require a hand in shaping their skills. She has taken our children to new heights.”

Winovich, who spent four years as a Duquesne Dukes cheerleader, received her bachelor’s and masters’ degrees from Duquesne University. There, she was fortunate to be trained by a number of gifted instructors including Patricia Pavlack, Thomas Godfrey, Dr. Sr. Carole Riley, Rosalene Kenneth, Rachelle Rak, Sherry Dusky-Brallier and Donna DeMark. After completing her degrees, she began teaching at Quigley Catholic High School in 1997 and then moved to Northgate in 1999. She currently teaches both the middle and senior high choirs in addition to general music, dancing and acting.

Because of her talent and her ability to bring out the best in her students, the fine arts program at Northgate has drawn much attention during Winovich’s tenure. Francesca Lattari, assistant to Superintendent Pasquerilla, shared that, “With anticipation, our extended audience awaits the announcements of music celebrations throughout the year. Many times it is standing room only at our annual winter and spring performances.”

This passion and talent for music did not go unnoticed by the larger community, either. For the past two consecutive years, Winovich has been nominated as a Grammy Music Educator of the Year, and has made it to the final round. This award, supported by such music icons as Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake and John Legend, has a very select and prestigious audience. “Only eight females across the United States have been chosen twice in a row, and I am honored to be one of them,” said Winovich.

Of those teachers nominated, one winner will be chosen in December and will receive an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles to the 2015 Grammy Awards.

The evaluation and selection process is not a simple one. Nominees are evaluated on their music knowledge and philosophy. They must also submit teaching demonstrations, undergo student and teacher interviews, compose essays, share budgetary information and more. Winovich boasts that being at a school and in a district which so passionately supports the arts has been a tremendous asset to her program and this selection process.

The publicity that this nomination has raised is a boon for the music program at Northgate as well as for schools across the country. Regardless of the outcome in December, Winovich’s passion cannot be quelled. “I am so thankful to the Grammy Foundation for recognizing myself and our Northgate Choral program,” she said. “I plan on continuing to help keep music alive for many years to come.”