Kayla McLaughlin

Class of

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Hometown: Huntington, New York

Current employer: Concord Public Schools (Massachusetts)

Berklee graduate program: M.M. in music education (autism concentration)

Undergraduate school: Westminster Choir College

Undergraduate major: music education 

Principal instrument: voice

Why did you choose Berklee’s graduate program?

I chose the music education program at Berklee because it is the only program that offers a concentration in working with individuals with autism and other related disabilities. As soon as I visited and met with Dr. Rhoda Bernard, I knew it was the perfect place for me to continue to learn and grow in this field.

What was the most valuable thing you learned during your master’s program at Berklee?

The most valuable takeaway from my time at Berklee were the connections that I made with my peers. I didn’t realize how many teachers were as passionate as I am about expanding arts education programs to individuals with disabilities—until I got to my first class at Berklee!

Briefly describe a memorable moment from your time in the graduate program.

I looked forward to attending my practicum class each week with Dr. Bernard. The small class size combined with the expertise of the professor created a personalized learning environment. Each class began with a conversation on what was happening in our classrooms that week. I really valued that time to talk to my colleagues and Dr. Bernard, to brainstorm new ideas, and to problem solve with people who understood the work that goes into an adapted arts program.

How do you use the skills acquired during your master’s program in your current teaching position?

I use the skills learned in this program every day in my classroom. I currently work in a public school setting; however, the tactics that I learned to adapt material and meet the needs of diverse learners have been essential! I feel prepared to modify a lesson or concept, if a student is having trouble understanding, without missing a beat. I have seen firsthand that a multi-modal, universally designed teaching practice makes a huge difference in the engagement of students of all abilities.

What are your goals as an educator? Did your experience at Berklee help further those goals?

My biggest goal as an educator is to create music programs and learning experiences that are accessible to all learners. I believe that every individual should have the opportunity to engage in music making if they would like to. A person’s unique learning style or need should not be a barrier for them to participate in musical experiences. I also hope to assist other teachers in creating adapted arts programs to reach their students with high support needs. My experience at Berklee has positioned me well to meet those goals through connections with like-minded folks and a depth of knowledge in working with individuals with disabilities.