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Gackstatter Wins Excellence in Education Award

Gary Gackstatter, assistant professor of music at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, is the winner of the Missouri Humanities Council’s 2017 Excellence in Education Award.

Gackstatter will be recognized during the Missouri Humanities Council’s 2017 Humanities Awards Gala Sept. 14 in St. Louis.

The award recognizes a Missouri teacher or educator who has demonstrated an incredible aptitude for engaging students over the course of his or her career. It especially values those who foster creativity, critical thinking, and an understanding of civic and social responsibility.

Gackstatter was nominated by Deborah Taffa of Washington University, who worked with Gackstatter on the 2016 debut of his Chaco Canyon Symphony, inspired by the ancient Anasazi culture of New Mexico. In her nomination letter, Taffa applauded Gackstatter for being “humble, focused, engaged, and celebrating the humanities as they were meant to be celebrated: IN COMMUNITY. He exemplifies excellence in education by reaching beyond the classroom to inspire and educate.”

Gackstatter has taught, performed and composed music for more than 30 years. He teaches music appreciation, beginning guitar, basic music, and leads both the Symphonic Band and Orchestra at Meramec.

“Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of the Music program at Meramec,” said Jerry Myers, professor and coordinator of Music at Meramec. “We strive to offer our students life changing experiences, and Gary’s contributions to our collaborative concerts have changed lives. This award goes a long way to recognizing his successful career in teaching, conducting and composing.”

In addition to regularly composing, Gackstatter plays the trombone, trumpet and guitar. He also creates art using pen and ink, and has published two books, including a music appreciation textbook titled “The Spark” that was published earlier this month.

“I was thrilled. This award means a great deal to me and I am humbled and grateful,” Gackstatter said.