Distinguished Alumnus:
Joseph A. Mola '61
BS, Music Education

Joseph A. Mola began studying piano when he was five years old. He attended St. Joseph's Parochial School, and by the time he was 10, he was organist for the children's choir. In addition to studying classical music, Mola became interested in popular and jazz piano. He played his first professional engagement when he was 13. At 15, he was granted special permission to become a member of the American Federation of Musicians. At that time, he was the youngest member ever awarded this honor. Mola played club dates through high school, and after graduation, attended WestConn (then known as Danbury State Teachers College), where he majored in Music Education. While at WestConn, he continued to play professionally off-campus, even working as house pianist at the Ridgewood Country Club. He also gave private piano lessons.

After graduation from Danbury State Teachers College in 1961, Mola had to decide whether or not to continue playing professionally and going on tour, or to teach choral music to junior high school students in Norwalk. He chose the latter, a decision he's never regretted. He taught eight years in junior high school, all the while continuing his own education. He received a M.A. in Music Education from Columbia University in 1969. When he was offered the position of Supervisor of Music in the Norwalk School District, he accepted and was there until his retirement in July 2003. In addition to his degrees at WestConn and Columbia, Mola received a professional diploma in Administration from Columbia University in 1971. In 1997, he was honored by the Connecticut Music Educators Association, receiving the Outstanding Music Educators Award with official citation from the Connecticut General Assembly in recognition of this honor.

“I am most proud of having been given the opportunity to share the love and passion I have for music and the arts," Mola said when asked about his accomplishments. "My 42 year tenure as a teacher and an administrator for the Norwalk Public School System has allowed me to share my love and passion for music with thousands of students, and with my dedicated and talented staff. It is my hope that the joyful and wonderful experiences they have had with music and the arts will forever enhance their lives."

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