Distinguished Director Nominees


Online voting will begin on February 1, 2018

Larry Dunn, Magnolia Junior & Senior High

Larry Dunn is currently in his 11th year of teaching in the Magnolia Public School District, where he directs the Magnolia Junior High Advanced Women, Advanced Men, Concert Women, Concert Men & Magnolia High School Concert Choir, Bel Canto and Concert Men.  In addition, he serves as chair of the district’s strategic planning committee, primarily responsible for a multimillion dollar investment in the district’s performing arts programs.  He holds a Bachelors of Music Education (2007), Masters of Education (2010) and has completed additional coursework required for certification in Educational Administration & Supervision from Southern Arkansas University—Magnolia.  Magnolia’s students have consistently earned placement in Arkansas’ All-Region & All-State honor choruses.  Choral ensembles under Dunn’s direction have consistently earned superior ratings at regional, state, invitational and national choral performance assessments.  Most notable, the Magnolia High School Concert Choir, Bel Canto & Concert Men have combined for several “Best in Class” captions at ArkCDA State Choral Festivals. Last spring, Magnolia High School choral ensembles earned Gold Ratings at Heritage Music Festival (Dallas), accompanied by Adjudicator’s Awards, Sweepstakes Awards and Overall Choral Group captions.  The high school ensembles will debut this spring in Washington, D.C.  Dunn has adjudicated choirs in Arkansas & Louisiana and has served as a clinician across Arkansas.  He was named SwArkCDA/Region III Choral Director of the Year (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and the ArkCDA Distinguished Director Award recipient (2015). Dunn has been named Magnolia Junior High Teacher of the Year, Magnolia School District Teacher of the Year, regional finalist for Arkansas State Teacher of the Year and the 2016 Southern Arkansas University Distinguished Young Alumnus.  He currently serves as the Junior Section chair for the Arkansas Choral Directors Association and the Repertoire and Resources chair (Women’s Choir) for the Arkansas Chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association.

Matthew N. Farr, Mabelvale Middle

Matthew N. Farr is in his fifth year of teaching Vocal and Instrumental Music, with all five years being at Mabelvale Middle School. Mr. Farr received his Bachelor of Arts in both Instrumental and Vocal Music from the University of Central Arkansas in the fall of 2012. He also received his Master of Science in Education Leadership from the University of Central Arkansas in the spring of 2014. In the Spring of 2018, he plans to complete his Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Grand Canyon University. Mr. Farr was Mabelvale’s 2014 Teacher of the Year and Region 2’s 2017 Distinguished Jr. High Choral Director. Mr. Farr served as the Region 3 Male chorus clinician as well as the Greenwood All City Male Chorus Clinician. He strives to challenge the minds of the students through music.

Mabelvale Middle School’s vocal music program consists of seven groups. These groups have consistently received Superior Ratings at Adjudicated Festivals. Some accomplishments include: Carnegie Hall performance in 2015, NBA National Anthem performance in 2015, Festival Disney in 2017 where the Madrigals received Best in Class and Disney “Gold. The Mabelvale Select Ensemble was selected as the featured choir at the 2017 ArkMEA conference. In July 2018, the Mabelvale Chamber Singers will tour Vienna, Austria and compete in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Mr. Farr resides in Mabelvale with his wife Chandria, daughter Kennedy, and is excited about the newest addition to his family, baby Rhyan who will make her debut May 2.

Matthew J. Foy, Russellville Senior High

Mr. Foy earned his degree in music education from the University of Central Arkansas in 1995.  He continued his education at UCA and completed his Masters of Music, emphasis in choral conducting, in 2000.  He served as graduate assistant under John Erwin for three semesters of his graduate work.  He taught at Bryant Junior High School from 1997-2000.  From 2000-2004, Mr. Foy taught junior high choir in the Russellville School district.  He was awarded the outstanding junior high choral director of the year award in the West-Central region in 2003 and out standing high school choral director of the year in 2005, 2008 and 2015.  In 2004 Mr. Foy took over as the high school choral director at Russellville.  During this time the choral program has grown and has received superior ratings at region and state choral performance assessments.

His choir won first place in its division at the Smokey Mountain Music Festival in 2007 and a best in class award from Heritage Music Festival, New York in 2009, Chicago in 2011 and Washington D.C. in 2017. His groups consistently receive “Best in Class” awards at the ArkCDA State Choral Festival. RHS Chromatic has earned the Best in Class award for 6A small ensemble for 5 straight years. His chamber choir was selected as the high school guest choir for the 2009 All-State music conference. His choirs have toured New York City where they performed at St. John the Divine Cathedral and Riverside Church. His choral students have excelled in all-region and all-state events.  He has had students qualify for SWACDA honor choirs in Little Rock and St. Louis and the ACDA National honor choir in Miami.

Mr. Foy has been an adjunct member of the Arkansas Tech University music staff as a private voice instructor.  He has been on the staff of the Arkansas Choral Connection choir camp for the past 15 summers where he has conducted various ensembles.  Mr. Foy has served as the chairman of the West-Central Region of ArkCDA.  He has been a clinician in all region and city choral festivals in Arkansas and has served as an adjudicator for region CPA’s in Arkansas.  In 2005 he successfully completed the process of becoming a national board certified teacher.   Mr. Foy’s family includes his wife of 20 years, Julie, daughter Darcy (14 years old), Son, James Walker (12 year old) and daughter Karys (7 years old).

Jeremy Hall, Greene County Tech Junior High

Jeremy Hall graduated with a BME from Ouachita Baptist University in 2009 and earned a Master’s in Education from Arkansas State University in 2017. He is in his 6th year as the Jr. High Choir Director at Greene County Tech School District and previously taught 3 years at his alma mater, Southside School District. While at Southside, Jeremy studied and worked alongside his mentor and great friend, Angie Weaver. He credits much of his success to her influence. Under his leadership the GCT Jr. High program has grown from 30 students to over 120. His choirs have consistently earned Excellent and Superior ratings at Choral Performance Assessment and his students are frequently selected for the All-Region, ACDA State, Divisional, and National Honor Choirs. He is grateful he works with a wonderful choral faculty at GCT and attributes much of the program’s success to their contributions.  Jeremy has served in several leadership capacities for the ArkCDA Region 1 and the Arkansas ACDA. He has been the Region 1 Jr. High Section Chairman for the past 8 years and has served as the co-coordinator for the first ever AR-ACDA Treble Honor Choir. He currently resides in Paragould where he enjoys spending time with close friends but frequently visits his family including his nephew, Tucker, in Batesville.

Rhonda Hawley, Springdale Senior High

Rhonda Hawley is the choral director at Springdale High School.   A native of Little Rock, she is in her 35th year of teaching.  Before teaching at Springdale High she taught 14 years at Southwest Jr. High, Springdale, 7 years in the Pulaski County Special School District and 1 year in the Cabot School District.   She holds a B.M.E. from the University of Central Arkansas.

Ms. Hawley’s choirs have performed for the SW-ACDA and National ACDA Conferences.  Her choirs have made 3 appearances as the invited performing choir at the Arkansas All State Music Convention. Choirs under her direction consistently receive Superior Ratings in both Concert and Sight Reading performances.

Rhonda is an active presenter, clinician and adjudicator throughout Arkansas and the Southern United States, having conducted district and All State clinics, and judged festivals in Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Colorado, Georgia and Florida.  She has directed ArkCDA Region choirs in every region of our state.

Ms. Hawley is the chair of ArkCDA Region 5. Other professional offices and honors she has held include:  Junior High Repertoire and Standards Chair for the Southwestern Division of ACDA;   President of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association; Secretary/Treasurer of AR-ACDA;  President of the Arkansas Choral Directors Association; ArkCDA All State Audition and Convention Chair; Junior High Section Chair for ArkCDA. She was a Charter Member of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Choral Connection Choir Camp where she served from 1991-2000.

In 2003 she was awarded to Key to City of Springdale by Mayor Jerre Van Hoose for her musical contributions to the city and was honored by the Springdale Chapter of Rotary International as a Paul Harris Fellow.  She was recently recognized as the 2017-18 Region 5 Senior High Director of the Year.

Ms. Hawley resides in Fayetteville with her four rescue cats: Christopher, Caroline, Camille & Cristian.

Beth Walters, Harrison Middle

Beth Walters is currently in her 19th year at Harrison School District. Mrs. Walters has been an elementary music teacher, as well as choral accompanist, and is in her 10th year as Harrison Junior High/Middle School Choral Director. Mrs. Walters attended Central Baptist College in Conway, AR and graduated cum laude from the College of the Ozarks in Pt. Lookout, MO with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Vocal and Instrumental Music Education, K-12.  She is certified in Music Education for the state of Missouri and Arkansas and in November 2009 achieved her National Board Teacher Certification in Early and Adolescent Music.  Mrs. Walters has been married to her husband, Randy, for 35 years and is mother to Audra, Matthew (daughter-in-law, Haley, and two-year old grandson, Bennett), Emily, and Lindsay. 

Scott Whitfield, Little Rock Central

Scott Whitfield is the choir director at Little Rock Central High School.  This is his 33rd year of teaching.  Little Rock Central High Choirs have a full performance schedule, and they display as much variety and diversity as the city itself.  The strong international presence at Central has allowed for the performance of many new compositions in many different languages.  This is his 12th year at Central, following a long period of teaching at Sylvan Hills Junior High in Sherwood and North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville.  Mr. Whitfield’s choirs consistently receive First Division ratings at Evaluative Festivals.  They have received dozens of “Sweepstakes” Awards and “Best in Class” Awards at the State Choir Festival, and hundreds of his students have been placed in the All Region and All State Choirs as well as the Regional and National Honor Choirs of ACDA.  He has been active for decades as an adjudicator and clinician throughout Arkansas and Tennessee.

Mr. Whitfield holds the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from the University of Central Arkansas and has done additional graduate studies at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.  He served 16 continuous years on the ArkCDA Executive Board, most recently as Past-President.  He has received the Region’s “Director of the Year” on five occasions and the “Fine Arts Teacher of the Year” for the Pulaski County Special School District.  He has received grants for teachers of the humanities that have allowed him to study in Moscow, Russia, and the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona.  As a very active church musician, he will often be found at the organ or piano bench, and he has accompanied many All Region and All State Choirs.

Mr. Whitfield is also a member of American Political Items Collectors, the North American Guild of Tower Bell Ringers, and he likes to think that he is at least a decent gardener.  He and his wife Melissa have two sons.

Roy Zimmerman, Greenwood Junior High

Roy Zimmerman, or Mr. Z, as he is known to his students, is a choir director for Greenwood School District, where he directs choirs for Greenwood Freshmen Center and Junior High, as well as serving as the Assistant Director for the High School Choirs.  He also teaches Music Theory for Greenwood High School.  Previously, he has taught in the Lavaca, Pleasant View, and Altus School Districts.

Under his direction, Mr. Zimmerman’s students have been awarded places in the West Central All Region Choir and Arkansas All State Choir.  His choirs consistently receive Superior ratings at both Region Choral Performance Assessment and State Choir Festival.  His Belle Canto (Freshman women’s chorus) has receiver the Arkansas Choral Directors Association Sweepstakes award in 2009, 2014, and 2015.  In 2009, he was selected as the Outstanding Junior High Choral Director for the West Central Region. And in 2017, he he was selected as the Outstanding Junior High Choral Director for ArkCDA Region 4.

He is actively involved in the Arkansas Choral Directors Association, serving  as the Region Chair for Region 4 of the Arkansas Choral Directors Association.  As such, he is also a member of the ArkCDA Board of Directors. He is also a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Arkansas Music Educators Association, and National Association for Music Education.

Mr.Z is originally from Vilonia, graduating in 1991.  He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in with a Bachelors of Music Education in 1997.    While at UCA, he was an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, University Ambassadors, and Student Orientation Staff.  He was inducted in the Order of Omega and also received the Sigma Phi Epsilon Balanced Man Award

Currently, Mr. Z lives in Lavaca with his wife, Meleia, his three daughters, Reagan, Presley, and Sloan, and a Dachshund named Romeo. He is actively involved in the Worship Arts Ministry at First Lavaca where he sings  on the Praise Team and in the choir.