A Reinhardt University music professor was celebrated this week as an extraordinary pillar of the community. The Good Shepherd Clinic awarded Dr. Martha Shaw the Clayton County Education Pillar Award for 2023.
The award exemplifies her efforts and positive influence she has on her students, helping those who are under-served, and recognizes her work has brought positive changes to Clayton County, Georgia. She accepted the honor at the Pillars Fundraiser, which helps fund healthcare provided to the medically uninsured at the Good Shepherd Clinic.
Dr. Shaw has been teaching for 42 years, with the last 11 years as Choir Director at Reinhardt. Twenty-nine years ago, she was inspired and encouraged to join the Spivey Hall education committee and start a children’s choir at Clayton State University. Her work with them thrived with kids flocking from 19 counties to perform with her. She now leads two choirs at Spivey Hall, including one that is one of the best in the country.
“The most important thing that I intended to do with this choir was to create beautiful people at the same time that we were creating beautiful music,” Shaw says. “For the community to recognize that we have done that, and that we have contributed well to the education of children of Clayton County just thrills me and is more than I could have asked for.”
Over the years, the Spivey Hall Children's Choir has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, at the Vatican, Carnegie Hall, on The Great Wall of China, in the Beijing concert hall and recorded four CD’s. Their biggest accolade is the American Choral Director’s association where under Shaw’s direction, they’ve performed at national conventions three times. Shaw compares this to going to the Superbowl.
Not only does Dr. Shaw inspire excellence in singing, but she teaches them life lessons every week. “I encourage my children to be people who love making themselves the best they can be,” she explains, “We train character and integrity, and teach success in life. They know how to meet people, travel, and roll with the unexpected. They are the most marvelous kids. They’re kind, thoughtful, caring, smart, fun, and funny. I train them as if they’re my own. I have kids with good hearts. I’m not looking for a perfect voice, I’m looking for a good heart.”
Dr. Shaw is in the process of starting a children’s choir at Reinhardt University before she retires in the summer of 2024. "I am delighted to announce that we will be starting a new youth choir here for the North Georgia area. It will be the Young Singers of Flint Hall. Auditions will be held this summer, and we will begin rehearsals in the fall."