Ashlen Udell never forgot where she fine-tuned her musical skills in college.
And her college, Montclair State University, has not forgotten about her, too.
Ms. Udell, who is the fine Director of the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School’s 7th Grade Band and Wind Ensemble, received a prestigious award from her alma mater.
On Wednesday, May 10, Ms. Udell was the recipient of the John J. Cali School of Music Alumni Achievement Award during a ceremony on the campus of Montclair State.
The Cali Awards Ceremony, which was held at the college’s Leshowitz Recital Hall, recognized the accomplishments and graduation of the Cali School of Music students and alumni.
Ms. Udell’s award, which was voted on by the music school’s faculty, is presented to an alumnus for positive contributions to the field of music education.
“When I was contacted that I won, I was so surprised because there are so many great people in music education who graduated from Montclair State,” Ms. Udell said. “I was honored.”
But she should not be surprised.
As well being a highly respected music educator in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, Ms. Udell has been in contact with Montclair State ever since she graduated in the Class of 2010 from the John J. Cali School of Music.
“The great thing about Montclair State is that they are involved,” Ms. Udell said. “I stay in contact and the school assisted with student teachers here while I was at both Bradley Gardens and Milltown (Primary Schools in the district).”
Ms. Udell continued to stay in touch when she offered to sing in an alumni choir during a celebration of Dr. Heather Buchanan, a Professor in the John J. Cali School of Music.
Ms. Udell guessed that her relationship with the college could have led to her nomination for her award.
“They contacted me because I was nominated and they asked for my bio,” she said.
That bio features information such as her being honored summa cum laude when she graduated from Montclair State with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Music Education and a minor in Dance. She received her Master of Music in Music Education from Northwestern University and she is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts student in Music Education at Rutgers University.
During the ceremony on May 10, Ms. Udell took the opportunity to inspire the students who were graduating.
“I talked to them about the special time I enjoyed at Montclair State and to use the tools that you learned and take them with you on the journey on who you will be.”
Barron Caromano, who is the Middle School’s Director of the 8th Grade Band and Jazz Ensemble, was thrilled with the award that his popular work partner achieved.
“I am really happy for Ashlen, as she certainly is deserving of such an award,” Mr. Caromano said. “Coming back to the Middle School after many years, things are a bit different as the structure and paradigm. Ashlen has been beyond helpful in helping me to acclimate and to be able to do my job more effectively and efficiently! She is a true professional and a fantastic person and teacher. She is a pleasure to work with.”
Those kind words are shared throughout the Middle School building.
“We are beyond thrilled that Ashlen Udell was awarded the John J. Cali Alumni Achievement Award, it certainly is well deserved,” Principal Megan Corliss of the Middle School said. “Ashlen is a talented educator and musician who is an asset to the BRMS community. We couldn’t be more proud to have her as a part of our staff.”
Ms. Udell is now focused on wrapping up the school year with a flourish.
“I love this time of the year, at the end,” Ms. Udell stated. “Everything is clicking and you can see the progress that the students have made. You can see their growth.
“And then we start again next year.”