Casey Mancilla


Casey Mancilla

School & School System Where You Work

Shady Grove Elementary School and William R. Davie Elementary School, Davie County Schools

Number of Years Teaching


Teaching Area(s)


Grade Level


What do you love most about teaching music?

I love being able to be a part of students finding their own love for music and watching them grow both as individuals and musically.

Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?

I was inspired by many of my previous music teachers by sharing a common interest and seeing the impact they had on students like me.

What did you need the most when you started teaching?

When I started teaching I would say I needed guidance the most. College tries to prepare you but nothing can prepare you for actually being a teacher. Especially during a pandemic. Having peers and coworkers to lean on really helped me my first couple of years and I still depend on them now, especially through these difficult times.

Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?

The biggest challenge teaching music is the feeling of being underappreciated. So many times music is thought of as just a planning period for teachers or not important. We are constantly having to prove our worth to not only other teachers but also the administration, parents, students, and the state. Our jobs are in jeopardy all the time because we are never sure when someone will make the decision that music isn’t important and they don’t have the money to support it anymore. I still struggle with this daily but something that helps is remembering why I do what I do. I try to remember the smile on my student’s faces when they play the note correctly on the recorder. I remember the chorus after a performance and the way they light up. I also remember that I am the difference between some kids enjoying coming to school or struggling the rest of their day, week, or school career.

How do you advocate for your program?

I advocate for my program by having a lot of performances and opportunities for students, parents, and staff to be involved. I also am sure to provide a strong curriculum for my students writing grants to provide instruments and the best education they can get. I keep my principals and county in the loop on what we are doing in the classroom making sure they know how important music is and how it is impacting each student’s life.

What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?

It’s ok to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn and grow as people and educators. Give yourself grace and understand that you are not perfect but neither is anyone else. Making mistakes makes us human and better for our kids. Take care of yourself because your mental health is important.

How do you build relationships with students and parents?

I am between two schools which means I see close to 1,000 students a week. This makes having relationships hard. I try to remember the names of all of my students and speak to each of them when I can. I also try to make sure they know that I am here for them and that I will support them. I try to keep in contact with parents through communication apps as well as letters home and email. I keep my website up to date with information as well as fun activities to do at home.