We all have a mentor we look back on fondly, who helped frame our world for the better. A support in good times and bad. The teacher in the darkened wings as you first stepped onto the bare stage. The director who remained when the judges chose another. The one who earned the right to correct and encourage you and whom you carry in your heart throughout life.
The Del Kieffner award
In 2007, Performing Arts Educators established the Del Kieffner Award, to honor Del Kieffner, a devoted music teacher who stands as a representative of the multitudes and generations of performing arts teachers who each in his or her own way have selflessly taught and nurtured succeeding generations of young student performers. His outstanding commitment and contributions in the Orlando, Florida community were endless. You will be missed!
This award of national recognition is given out annually to a instrumental, choral, or dance director who went above and beyond in their mentoring of young students in the performing arts.
Del Kieffner Award Recipients
The 15th Annual Del Kieffner Award Recipient, Dr. Peggy Dettwiler DMA, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Mansfield University
As a recipient of the Del Kieffner Award, Dr. Dettwiler joins a select ensemble of people who have positively shaped and influenced the lives of the students they’ve taught. Dr. Dettwiler conducts the Concert Choir, Festival Chorus, and Chamber Singers, and teaches choral conducting and methods at Mansfield University, Mansfield, Pennsylvania. She holds the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
In 2010, Dr. Dettwiler received the Elaine Brown Award for Choral Excellence from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, and she placed second in 2011 and 2013 for the American Prize for Choral Conductors at the College/University level.
In 2016, she served on the jury for the World Choir Games in Sochi, Russia. Most recently, she prepared 80 singers from Mansfield University to sing the choruses for Carnegie Hall’s Gala Benefit Celebration of Bernstein’s Candide, garnering a mention in the New York Times newspaper. Dr. Dettwiler is currently President of the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association.
The 14th Annual Del Kieffner Award Recipient, Ms. Tiffany Jefferson
Tiffany Jefferson is the director of the Hinds Community College Dance program in Raymond, Mississippi. Mrs. Jefferson is the 2020 Del Kieffner, Carnegie Hall director of the year, the 2020 City with Soul honoree, the 2013 Humanities Teacher of Year Recipient, and the Hinds Community College 2018 Hind’s Hero and Life Star Award Recipient.
Mrs. Jefferson is the artistic director and founder of Montage Theatre of Dance. She is one of the lead instructors of Dance Works Studio in Clinton, MS. Tiffany Jefferson is a Ph.D. at Jackson State University. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Dance Education from Wichita State University and received her undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University where she was the 1996 Miss Black Oklahoma and an All-American collegiate cheerleader. She has also studied with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Broadway Dance Center, International Ballet Competition, Monsters of Hip Hop, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, TAP into the Network, American Collegiate Dance Festival Association, and many other governing bodies.
The 13th Annual Del Kieffner Award Recipient, Esther P. Owens, M.S.
Esther recently retired from a lifetime of teaching at Hinds Community College, Mississippi, where she taught modern jazz, liturgical, beginner’s ballet, ballroom dance, ethnic techniques, country-western, street, jazz and hip hop. Her lifelong focus has been the Mahogany Dancers, a 16 member dance troupe f dedicated, motivated, and highly energetic young girls based out of Utica, Mississippi. Esther founded the group in 1981 to provide a positive experience for the youth of the community.
Owens is the recipient of numerous awards and special recognitions. Noteworthy honors have been extended for committed service to the Utica Community, Hinds County School District Board of Trustees for Outstanding Accomplishments and Outstanding Performance. Her unique choreography has brought acclaim from judges during competitive events resulting in many grand championships for her nationally renowned troupe. She has chosen as a motto for her group, “Striving to Bring Excellence to Maturity.”
“The Mahogany Dancers were one of the few groups to come into New York City (against conventional wisdom ~ all the way from Mississippi by train) the January after 9/11 for our performance benefit for first responders and their families of that disaster and to show disheartened New Yorkers and Lincoln Center staff that we were all in this together.” ~ Matt Straub, Artistic Director
PREVIOUS DEL KIEFFNER AWARD RECIPIENTs
2018 12th Annual Award
2017 11th Annual Award
2016 10th Annual Award
2015 9th Annual Award
2014 8th Annual Award
2013 7th Annual Award
2012 6th Annual Award
2011 5th Annual Award
2010 4th Annual Award
2009 3rd Annual Award
2008 2nd Annual Award
2007 1st Annual Award
Fontaine Dollas Dubus, Joppa Dance Company
Kathy Costa, DanceWorks Dance Studio
Kathie Kececi, In Motion Dance Studio
Ronda Barber, Step By Step Dance Company
Renee Sussman, St. John the Baptist Dance Company
Matt Straub, Producer, Performing Arts Educators
Linda Rees, Dance Magic Performing Arts Center
Doreen Cran, A Dance Class
Lynnell Ediger-Kirdzala, American Youth Harp Ensemble
Teresa Andris, Bowman Studios
Bridget Archer, Bridget Archer Dancers
Stan Brown, The Pepper Steppers