School & School System Where You Work
Cleveland High School, Johnston County Public Schools
Number of Years Teaching
What do you love most about teaching music?
What I love most about teaching is seeing all students gain confidence in their abilities and watching them gain independence as musicians. Is quite remarkable to see students observe their own abilities and realize they are able to make wonderful music and develop a desire to grow in their development. It’s like seeing them when they have what I call “Aha” moments. It makes me feel that I am truly blessed to be able to have a part in helping achieve that goal.
Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?
There are 3 people in a particular. Cassandra Barnes, My MS Choral Teacher- She was the one who allowed my eyes to be open to the wonderful world of Choral Music. Being in her classroom gave me a sense of pride and confidence in myself that I needed. That was further developed by my HS Choral Director, Darla Peedin. It was in her program that I was committed to becoming a HS Choral Director. And finally, Dr. William S. Crowder, former NCMEA President, and My College Professor and Choir Director at Livingstone College. Dr. Crowder, although I wasn’t the strongest in music theory skills, He took the time to help me develop as a musician and a choral conductor. All three of these individuals are the reason why I am a music educator today.
What did you need the most when you started teaching?
I would say that I needed a great mentor, which I had. I feel that having a wonderful mentor who understands your content area, as well as the nuts and bolts of being a first-year teacher and who is supportive and empowering is a Godsend!
Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?
Being that I am a Secondary Choral Music Teacher, I have found my biggest challenge to be retention in my program. I have started two choir programs that I have had to rebuild. This has been both challenging and a blessing. I’ve had to be creative in my thinking. Sometimes there’s a big turnover in a program, it makes kids not sure you will stay. What I’ve had to do is bring about a sense of belonging and provide an environment that is welcoming, and inclusive to all students. I have done Choral Retreats, where we focus on building a sense of belonging, all while developing musicianship. I have also set out a recruitment campaign school-wide to allow students to participate in the Choral Program regardless of their enrollment status.
How do you advocate for your program?
I strive to advocate for my program by ensuring that Students are provided meaningful learning opportunities, and by providing all local stakeholders in the surrounding communities, to be made aware of the great things happening in my program, to allow them to see how students are growing and developing as Choral Singers.
What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?
I would say to a beginner teacher, you are going to make a world of difference. I would encourage them to continue to work hard and never give up on their craft as a profession.
I would also say to them that as you continue to grow and develop as a teacher, your impact will reach no limits because teachers affect eternity.
How do you build relationships with students and parents?
I am very intentional at building relationships with students and parents through a solid and consistent level of communication. With my choral students, I make it a priority to build relationships by providing a welcoming learning environment, where everyone is valued and safe as choral students. I strive to make parents fully welcome and abreast of the learning that takes place in our choral classroom by way of student work samples, e-newsletters and social media platforms that gives a glimpse into the wonderful world of music we strive to achieve.