South’s John Laswell Earns Columbus Symphony’s 2018 Secondary Educator Award

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picture of John Laswell


The Columbus Symphony has announced the winners of its 2018 Music Educator Awards, honoring individuals who make a difference in the community through a dedication to music education and promotion of a greater understanding of and appreciation for the art form.  Westerville South High School Director of Bands John Laswell is the Secondary Education recipient.  Elementary Education winner is Costantino Benedetti, a general music teacher at Tremont Elementary School in the Upper Arlington district; and Kathy Larkins, director of the Columbus Chorus Sweet Adelines, won the Community Education award. 

Three nominees were selected in the categories of elementary, secondary, and community education.  Each winner will receive a $2,500 grant to spend at their discretion on music education endeavors.  Past winners have used these funds to host guest instructors, repair instruments, take professional development classes, or purchase new instruments, computer software, and music. 

The winners will be presented with their awards at a dinner on Saturday, March 17, at 5:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Capitol Square, located at 75 East State Street.  Tickets to the event cost $65 and include admission to that evening’s Columbus Symphony concert, Mendelssohn’s Scottish, Copland, and Beethoven, at the Ohio Theatre at 8:00 p.m.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 614/221-4916 before March 5. 

The Music Educator Awards were made possible through the generous support of American Electric Power and Kim and Jude Swanson, with additional support from Canneto Studios. 

Laswell received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Ohio Northern University in 2008, and his Master of Music in Music Education from Kent State University in 2012.  He has taught instrumental music for the past nine years, five at Westerville South High School.  He currently instructs musicians in the Westerville South Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Marching Band.  During his tenure in Westerville, ensembles under his leadership have gained recognition both at the regional and state levels.  He also enjoys conducting the pit orchestra for the spring theatre productions, leading pep bands at home soccer games, and fostering great working relationships with students, colleagues, administrators, booster parents, and community members.  Laswell currently performs in the Westerville Concert Band, a community band comprised of more than 80 local musicians who perform several concerts throughout Central Ohio.  In addition to his teacher duties, he currently works as one of Westerville City Schools’ secondary music facilitators, working with district administrators on scheduling equipment purchasing, and professional development and in-service for the district’s secondary music educators. 

Founded in 1951, the Columbus Symphony is the only full-time, professional symphony in Central Ohio.  This season, it will share classical music with more than 200,000 people through concerts, radio broadcasts, and special programming.  Learn more at