School & School System Where You Work
Swain Middle & High School, Swain County Schools
Number of Years Teaching
Chorus & Band
What do you love most about teaching music?
I love how the process of preparing high quality equates to real-life scenarios. In what other subject do students get to take the time to hyper-focus on specific tasks for months at a time? Music gives the opportunity to demonstrate how fruitful hard and focused work can pay off.
Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?
Karen Williams-Lanning served as my inspiration to be a music educator. Luckily I get to work with her every day now. Mrs. Williams taught me the importance of investing in every student, ensuring they feel valued and included.
What did you need the most when you started teaching?
The support of seasoned educators (Luckily there are so many music educators in NC that have helped me grow).
Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?
One of the biggest challenges is defining success for your program. We all come into music education with predetermined mindsets about what success is. However, every program comes with its own set of challenges and battles. As a music educator, you have to be able to define and communicate success with your community. I have worked in my community to understand the context in which I am working, and understanding the obstacles that the SMS students specifically face. When we have a concert, competitions, etc, we don’t make excuses- but show what students are able to accomplish despite the obstacles they face.
How do you advocate for your program?
The key to advocacy is taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. These typically are not convenient, but make you visible in the community. We play at the elementary schools anytime we are asked, support athletic teams, and we almost never say no. When the community knows you are invested in it, they become invested in you.
What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?
The students you teach are worth the extra work you have to put in. Any kind of music education is much more than an 8:00-3:00 job, but the time is worth it.
How do you build relationships with students and parents?
Open communication is the best way to build a relationship with students and parents. Students have to know that you are in this for them. Show them you care. Your students have to know that you want what’s best for them, and when they truly get that they will go the extra mile for you. If you make sure the students know this the parents tend to be on your side too.