School & School System Where You Work
Pleasant Ridge Elementary School, Gaston County Schools
Number of Years Teaching
What do you love most about teaching music?
I love how music truly is a universal language. Students with special needs, speak another language or struggle in a regular classroom setting shine right alongside peers.
Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?
I came from a small town with a small band program but was fortunate enough to have support from my parents, private lessons teacher, and band director to participate in honor bands and youth programs. Interacting with students from other places made me realize what amazing things music programs can do. From then on I wanted to share my love of music with others.
What did you need the most when you started teaching?
In student teaching you get to work with amazing programs with disciplined students. Most programs beginning teachers step into are not full of amazing musicians with perfect behavior. I needed resources and support to understand how to turn an unruly group with noisemakers into a group that could learn to become great musicians.
Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?
The biggest challenge I have faced is getting administration and classroom teachers to value music programs. There’s pay incentives for state testing in reading and math so many schools value those subjects above all else whereas music programs are seen as “fun time”. There is no easy fix for this challenge, but one thing that alters perception is parent support. Parents can see the impact music programs have on their students and when they support music programs, others notice.
How do you advocate for your program?
One way I advocate for my program is through finding funding. My program doesn’t have a budget so I write grants and help fundraise to ensure I can buy materials for my students to have a great music program.
What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?
Set a time you’re going to go home after school every day and stick to it.
How do you build relationships with students and parents?
Make your classroom a place where students are excited to learn. Teach concepts through interactive activities and games. Kids will leave your room excited to tell their parents what they did in music. Let parents know how they can support you. You would be surprised at how many parents would be willing to set up for concerts, donate items, or volunteer their time.