Depew teacher earns award for excellence in music education, Lancaster Bee

Diane Sullivan, who has taught music in Depew schools for 38 years, was honored in April with the BPO/ECMEA Award for Excellence in Music Education.

Established in 1994 with the Erie County Music Educators Association, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra award recognizes and honors music educators who have built their careers on teaching and nurturing students in the musical arts.

“It was a very special award because I personally knew many of the recipients who preceded me,” said Sullivan. “As a college student, I tried to emulate and learn from them.”

The award presentation on April 25 at Kleinhans Music Hall was attended by district staff and family and friends. Sullivan was nominated for the award by colleagues and members of the community.

Sullivan directs the Depew High School concert choir, mixed chorus, SSA chorus and show choir. She is also producer and music director for the annual musical production and is a music department co-chairperson.

“This is not a one-person award,” she said, adding that the support and dedication of her music colleagues at Depew Schools makes it possible to create wonderful educational opportunities for students. Parents who sew costumes and build sets for the musical all contribute to what the district is able to do.

Several years ago, she had more than 200 singers in her choruses. As enrollment in the district declined, so has the number of singers in chorus. Today she has less than 100 singers.

“To be recognized as a music educator from a smaller school shows that even though we are a small school, we are still capable of doing great things,” she said.

Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University at Buffalo, a master’s degree in special education from Buffalo State College and New York State certification in administration at the University at Buffalo. She is a member of Erie County Music Educators Association, New York State School Music

Association and American Choral Directors Association and has been included in Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers.

In 1988 she was named as Depew’s Educator of the Year. Professional highlights include Music in the Parks awards, masterworks concerts with Lancaster and Maryvale high schools, and performances at the Concord Resort at Kiamesha Lake in the Catskills, Busch Gardens in Virginia, Walt Disney World, and the Cathedral St. John the Divine in New York City.

Outside school, she has served as superintendent of the Sunday School program at St. Stephen Serbian Orthodox Church for nearly 35 years. This work earned her an Episcopal Citation of Recognition from the Serbian Orthodox bishop of Eastern America in 2007.

She and her husband, Sean, are the parents of two sons, Ryan and Conor.