CHURUBUSCO — Ryan Dawson has big shoes to fill — but he already knows that.

Dawson is stepping up to take over as Churubusco choir teacher, filling the role left behind by Aaron Childress.

Dawson has spent the past few years working with several choir programs as a choreographer and clinician in the Fort Wayne and surrounding areas.

“As part of those experiences, Dawson has worked with both of our show choirs during the past few years, and has established relationships with our students and staff,” Smith-Green Superintendent Dan Hile said. “He has a strong background as a vocalist and vocal instructor, and also brings an understanding of competitive show choir.”

Dawson was “highly recommended” by Childress as well.

Dawson is a 2014 graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne with a bachelor’s in music education. He’s also worked at Texas City High School since 2014 as a show designer and choreographer. Dawson is a member of the Indiana Music Education Association, National Association for Music Education and American Choral Directors Association.

Churubusco Jr./Sr. High School has about 200 choral students throughout the school day. Along with approving the hire of Dawson, the school board also approved the addition of a choral accompanist/assistant for the CJSHS choir program.

“There are very few programs that don’t have an assistant or accompanist, or both, to help with a large program like we have here,” Hile said. “Assistants provide increased opportunities for students to receive more individualized instruction as they increase their skills as performers and musicians. They also provide additional supervision and management for large choirs, allowing the director to more easily focus on instruction by splitting large groups into smaller sections.”

Hile applied for a Dekko grant to help cover the funding for the position, which is strictly for school-day duties, not extracurriculars such as the show choirs.

“The choral department has continued to grow and excel through the years,” Hile said.

The board unanimously approved the additional position, which was posted immediately.

“We hope we can have someone in place soon,” Hile said.