LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Melissa Mazur

Position: Choir / Music teacher
School: Valley Junior Senior High School
School District: New Kensington-Arnold School District
City, State: New Kensington, PA

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Melissa Mazur was nominated by her colleague of 15 years, Beth Ryce.

Mrs. Mazur has not only created a phenomenal choir and show choir program, but she has also become one of the key faculty members in recognizing fellow colleagues and outstanding students.

Mrs. Mazur spends an incredible amount of time both in school and outside of school with her show choir, teaching them so much more than singing and choreography. She also incorporates proper etiquette and protocol for interacting with others while on field trips, such as teaching them how to tip servers, be gracious with drivers, and navigate new experiences by looking for maps and other resources. She includes the show choir in multiple competitions, being sure to instill the importance of dedicated practice, as well as instruct them on proper stage presence.

With the faculty, Mrs. Mazur will purchase cards that celebrate new births and weddings, or share sympathies when someone experiences a loss for the entire faculty to sign, which she then sends along. She is quick to volunteer her time and effort to fill in nomination forms for outstanding students as well as colleagues. Mrs. Mazur has also led the committee that plans the retirement parties at the end of every school year.

"Mrs. Melissa Mazur enriches pretty much every life she encounters, and I would not be the educator I am without having known and worked alongside her," said Ryce.

Comments (39)

Melissa Mazur Posted over a year ago

I have been humbled by your thoughts and words of encouragement. When each of us find a career, we have an innate desire to do our best without thinking much of how other people view our efforts. But this nomination makes my heart smile with gratification that I really did make an impression on my students, my colleagues and my friends. All I ever wanted to do was a good job and make people enjoy music and performing knowing that after high school there would be little opportunity to continue the excitement of being on stage. My only other hope is that my students take what they've learned in my class to every aspect of their adult lives and use the confidence to excel and inspire others. Thank you everyone! It's been a journey.

Steve Ansani Posted over a year ago

Congratulations, Maz, you are an inspiration to so many students and faculty...well deserved

Dariyn Peluso Posted over a year ago

Congrats to Melissa for being an outstanding educator and colleague for her long years of service to the New Kensington/Arnold School District. I know she has dedicated her career to helping high school students reach for the working hard... She will be missed by all. Dariyn Peluso, art educator Junior High.

Kaylin Wall Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur was an amazing choir teacher who got to know each of her students and gave everyone an equal opportunity to have their moment. I don't know of any student who did not absolutely adore and respect her. The highlight of my high school career was being apart of her show choir team in which she gave us responsibilities and allowed us to work together as a real team and help lead each other and better ourselves. Mrs. Mazur impacted my time at VHS and I know she has impacted many others as well.

Kathy Jo Sagwitz Posted over a year ago

Not only am I lucky enough to work with Melissa, I am also blessed to be able to call her my friend! She has amazing talent and is loved by her students!

Madison Pastrick Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur is so much more than an incredible choir teacher - she is an advocate of the student who works to ensure that all students at Valley High School are presented with the opportunities that will help them succeed in and out of the classroom. Not only did she serve my class through her love of music, but she supported us in all of our endeavors, helping us become the people we are today. I am so incredibly grateful to have had such a wonderful choir teacher and I encourage the fact that she deserves recognition for all of the impact she has made at VHS.

Amanda Johns Posted over a year ago

It has been a pleasure working and teaching with you over the past 10 years. You are an awesome teacher. Congrats!

Emily Posted over a year ago

I was a student of Mrs. Mazur from 2003 through 2008. Not only was she an amazing choir/show choir teacher, she is an amazing friend. It is so beautiful to see her work through all of the graduates and current students at Valley. I am blessed daily through the life lessons she taught us as well as her friendship. Knowing that we all had someone in our corner in our daily lives, was the most incredible blessing any of us could have had. Through high school, I was bullied by a group of people. It is because of Mrs.Mazur’s love and support that I made it through. I get tears in my eyes when I see her at events and even at grocery store! She is without a doubt, one of the pillars in my life. I am thankful to have her as a lifelong friend. I truly couldn’t think of a more deserving individual. ?? You Maz!

Anna Cernicky Posted over a year ago

Your are the best Melissa!!

Zachary Campbell Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur is a wonderful teacher and an even more wonderful person. Her passion for music is infectious and she has made a tremendous impact on countless people's lives, including my own.

Sarah Schachte Posted over a year ago

I was lucky enough to have met Mrs. Mazur my sixth grade year of choir. She had such a passion for her job that just shined through every single day. When she moved up to the high school i was sad at first, but it ended up being a wonderful gift because i got to see her every day for 9-12th grade. Maz made it so that you always look forward to coming to her class. She made every day fun and exciting and pushed you to try harder than you thought you could. She brought so many people out of their shells and gave them the confidence they needed to believe in themselves. She is so much more than a choir teacher. Maz is someone you can confide in with your daily struggles, a shoulder to cry on, someone to celebrate your achievements with you, someone to go to if you just need cheering up a bit, and overall just a genuine loving human being. I graduated 8 years ago and every time I see that amazing woman she still calls me by name and offers a warm hug. She is still interested in all of our lives no matter how old we get. Maz is a forever friend. I am so grateful that both my sisters and I were able to spend our years at Valley as students to someone with such a beautiful view on life as Melissa Mazur. She is a one of a kind soul. Nobody will ever do it better than she has.

David Townsend Posted over a year ago

Pushed my younger brother to pursue his passion in music! And honestly is very kind and passionate. Not only as a person , but also as a molder of Young's minds in today's world. She is not just part of valley. She is part of what makes valley and I couldn't ask for a better person to support. Than a person who pushed my brother (logan) to do great things and have great moments through his time at VHS. She more then deserves this!

Aaron Smith Posted over a year ago

you are awesome!!!! congrats

Katie Milito Posted over a year ago

I was one of the lucky ones to have Maz from 6th grade to 12th grade. She loves each and every student she works with, and more importantly, she inspires them to be the best version of themselves. That right there is something you don’t see in every teacher...she’s all that and more. A teacher, a leader, a mentor, a friend. No one does it better than Melissa Mazur.

Caiti Monaco Miller Posted over a year ago

A great musician and an even better teacher. Mrs. Mazur led us to 1st place and 2nd place trophies in regional show choir competitions!

Shannon Maier Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur was so much more than a teacher for so many. She is a supporter, a listener, a mother figure, a shoulder to cry on & a mentor. She is compassionate, fierce, brilliant, kind, creative, talented, funny & one of my biggest inspirations. I had the privilege to have her for 2 years in middle school before she moved up to our high school & then was blessed to have her again in my high school years. She saw the talent & potential in every single student she had & made you feel like you could do anything you set your mind too. I was a shy student who was so incredibly fearful of singing in front of people. She never pushed too much, but pushed & encouraged just enough to get me out of my shell. But it’s so much more than that. She helped me feel proud, not because of my singing, but for who I was. To this day, she is still the person who I say helped me grow tremendously into the woman that I came today. She literally gave me my voice - to sing, to stand up for myself & tackle anything that life throws my way. I couldn’t be more excited to see that she is nominated for this award because I couldn’t think of a better human being for it. She has gone above and beyond for her kids & treated them as her own, actually getting the nickname Mama Maze from several students. I’m happy she is being recognized for her dedication & unfathomable love & inspiration to her students. We love you Mama Maze - you deserve it!

Chris ortego Posted over a year ago

Love Mrs. Mazur my two daughters us her as a choir director we love everything she did with choir and children!

Lauren Ortego Posted over a year ago

Maze changed my life. I felt her love and encouragement flow through everything we did with her.

Bethany Tomes Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur has been an AMAZING teacher for the past few months I've had her for show choir. She's hilarious, but also serious when she needs to be. She's a PHENOMENAL choir teacher! #LCOY

Katlyn Posted over a year ago

When I was young, I experienced an extreme trauma and it left me with anxiety, depression, ptsd, and many other things. Mrs. Mazur was my saving grace in high school. Her choir room was like a refuge. Being in her choir and her show choir was the highlight of my high school career. I think of her often and I am thankful every day for the relationship I had with her. She gave me the advice I needed. The tough love I hated. And the fun I craved. She’s 1 in a million and deserves more than we will ever be able to give her.

Brittany Hill Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur is the sweetest, most talented and kind-hearted human being ever. She taught me so many things with my music career and so many life lessons as a person. She is the type of person who will push you towards your dreams no matter what! Best teacher I’ve ever had.??

Catherine Tomes Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur is one of the best teachers I've ever had. Yes, she's a choir teacher, but her title doesn't show how much of an impact she's actually made at VHS. When I entered high school I was still a very self-conscious and scared little girl. I knew that I loved to sing, and I loved to dance (even though I can't dance at all). Mrs. Mazur helped me find who I am as a performer, and I can't thank her enough for that. Mrs. Mazur has been a shoulder to cry on, someone to hug, a fashion icon, a mentor, a teacher, a great story teller, and one of the funniest women I know. The VHS Show Choir has become more than a place for kids who love to entertain; Mrs. Mazur has used her power as the director of show choir to change lives. I remember she told me once about why she chose a big show choir, or why she chose to put people in show choir who the other students didn't understand why they were there. She said that by giving them a place to express themselves and let their built up energy and feelings out, that their lives could be changed for the better. The hear that she she has is beyond explainable. There sre too many great things that could be said about her. Mrs. Mazur, and I can't wait to see her concerts this year.

Cody Petit Posted over a year ago

Melissa Mazur is the most loving and caring teacher I’ve ever been graced with in all my years of academia! I’ve graduated from college with a degree in Musical Theatre because she taught me that no matter what follow my love and passion. She made me and many other in her class feel loved, accepted and special! She is truly an incredible women and an even more amazing educator! She is beyond deseving of such an award!

Kylie Kasavage Posted over a year ago

I auditioned for my high school’s show choir my sophomore year and she believed in me and let me in. This extravagant woman has helped me so much through a plethora of problems throughout my years. I love this woman and I am glad to call her my life changer of several of my high school years!

Mackenzie Booker Posted over a year ago

Mrs.Mazur is the best teacher, and such a great role model. Us as a school look up to her she is awesome!!! She is a teacher you can trust and go to if you need help.

Amber Sharkins Posted over a year ago

I only took choir my senior year of high school because I was unabled to the previous years but that one year was so amazing and I had so much fun with Mrs.Mazur I wish I had been able to take 4 years of choir and have the close relationship my peers had with her.

Kaleigh Posted over a year ago

As the second child that Mrs. Mazur taught, she was one of the first and only teachers that made me feel like an individual. I loved her, I loved her class, and she really made it a fun experience.

Kelsea Enriquez Posted over a year ago

Mama Maz was the most inspirational and impactful teacher I’ve ever had. She taught me leadership as a show choir choreographer, which is more than just leading. Getting your peers to listen to you and believe that what you’re saying is right is something I could do before I met Mrs. Mazur. She is such a cool woman; using slang ironically and entertaining our dumb ideas. She’s such an amazing woman and deserves this award more than anyone I know. #mazurgang

Megan O Posted over a year ago

Loved her as a teacher! She is amazing and supportive. Encourages students to keep the arts in their hearts!

Morgan Shawfield Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege and the pleasure of having Mrs. Mazur as my choral director for 4 years. Singing has always been a passion of mine but it wasn't until I had Mrs. Mazur as a teacher that I was able to really have the confidence to share my voice. She helped me train my voice to be more controlled and learn how to breathe properly while singing. She was largely responsible for the amount of confidence I gained during the brutal years of high school. Beyond teaching, Mrs. Mazur was the teacher that myself and many of my peers went to for guidance. She was a patient ear, a confidante, and an endless source of wisdom and understanding. The choir room was a safe space where anything short of kindness and respect was not tolerated among students. Her room was often the space where misfits went to eat lunch to escape the chaos of the cafeteria, where overloaded honor kids went to relax after stressful AP classes, and where dedicated performers went during their study halls to get in extra practice. Her desk calender was always filled with both student and faculty birthdays so that no one would feel forgotten and she openly recognized student accomplishments both in and out of choir. Her concerts and performances give an opportunity for students to show off their talent and remind them that they are special. I think a great example of just how greatly Melissa Mazur has impacted her students lives during their years as her pupil and beyond is how many former students still remember the words to "Carol of the Bells" for the winter and "One Song" for the spring which she performs at the end of every concert and invites all former students to come on stage and participate. Every year there are over a dozen people who join her on stage from the audience. Most of my fondest memories of high school took place in her room, on stage, or traveling with her for show choir. She made my high school experience so rich that I don't know where I'd be if I had not had her to guide me through those years.

Alli Jackson Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur is truly an amazing teacher. No other educator I've had has inspired and motivated me more. Having been her student I feel more enriched and prepared not just for choir, but for life because of her.

kaylyn farneth Posted over a year ago

Ms. Mazur was one of the most influential teachers in my life. Not only in her every day practice in the classroom but also in her constant presence in every students' life. She was one of the main reasons why I chose to become a teacher myself. She supported me and many others in our every day struggles, helped to highlight our strengths, and gave us a chance even when we may not have believed in ourselves. Even nearly a decade later I find myself visiting her classroom to thank her for everything she has done. She deserves endless appreciation for her continued drive, compassion, and dedication to the youth.

Jamé Reese Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur was by far one of my favorite teachers. Whenever i had free time in my schedule to the choir room is where i went! She means business but has a heart of gold! - former concert choir president class of 2015 Jamé Reese

Logan Reedy Posted over a year ago

Melissa Mazur has indefinitely changed my life for the better. I was a 4 year member of her choir, and a 3 year member of her show choir program. I served as her vice president my senior year, and a colleague. Her and I kept the other on task, and always thought of the goal ahead. She ignited my love for music, and assisted in pushing me to pursue my further education and my happiness. Melissa is not only a wonderful educator, a beautiful soul, but a compassion human being. She deserves this ~Logan

Nevin Wissner Posted over a year ago

Mrs Mazur has been a phenomenal teacher and helped me recognize my love for music and theatre. Choir has always been there for me no matter where I was at in life and without her I don't know if I would've kept with it, I'm so thankful I did. Thank you so much Mrs Mazur.

Skylar Posted over a year ago

A wonderful teacher to receive the LCOY Award

Leah Posted over a year ago

Mrs.Mazur helped me have confidence in myself, no matter how bad a day she was having she never showed it, no matter how bad her knee hurting she never showed.. she taught me to always have a good attitude.... She always keeps it real with me & every other student she had, I never wouldve thought I loved a teacher but Mrs. Mazur ??? I LOVE HER... she would always get us right with the snack.. i had her back no matter what , can’t nobody say anything bad about My girl mazur, unless they try to disrespect her.. she always is telling about how her day was,what happened or some crazy story .. & we loved listen to her talk about it.. even though we had our goodfy times one thing mrs mazur did not mess around with was her music ! Once it was choir time & rehearsal time it was time to get serious ..

Madison Posted over a year ago

Mrs Mazur is one of the most amazing people that I have been able to interact with during my time in high school. I was able to have her as a teacher during my first two years when I was in choir. She was so sweet and always motivated her students to do better, not only in choir but in life. I always felt comfortable talking to her about anything I was struggling with and she was always so attentive to the needs of others. It sucked not having room to take choir my last two years of school but she always offered to allow me to participate anyways. She is truly a wonderful human being.

Rose Barone Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mazur was loved by EVERYONE in choir, band, show choir, and outside of the arts as well! Her personality was wonderful and kind, but she was also forward and serious when she needed to be - everything required for a great teacher. #choosemazur2018