Dareion Malone ’13 is the Union County Public Schools 2020-21 Teacher of the Year. He is the chorus teacher at Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw.
When Malone’s corporate job was eliminated in the 2008 economic downturn, he decided to return to school to pursue his first love, music.
“That was always my initial choice,” he said in a 2018 interview for CoA+A Community. “I was discouraged from studying music for my first degree because of low teacher pay.” He had instead studied business administration.
A baritone, he enrolled at UNC Charlotte and received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 2013. In 2019 he received the College of Arts + Architecture Distinguished Alumni Award in Music.
As an advocate for music education, Malone holds membership in the National Association for Music Education, American Choral Directors Association and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America Inc. He serves on the board of the Choral Section of the North Carolina Music Educators Association and is an active choral adjudicator for WorldStrides Heritage Festivals.
Malone received the Teacher of the Year Award in a virtual ceremony on May 6. He was chosen from among 10 finalists and has been praised by Union County Public Schools (UCPS) for his “ability to connect with all students, regardless of their background or musical abilities.”
“When faced with hard circumstances, I want them to always think of the best response to what they’re facing,” he said in an article on the UCPS website. “Not the best reaction, but the best response—I always want them to choose the best version of themselves.”
Malone will receive a $1,000 prize and will represent the county in the regional Teacher of the Year program.