Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Current employer/position: elementary music teacher, specialist, and team leader at the Carroll School, Waltham, Massachusetts
Berklee graduate program: M.M. in music education (autism concentration)
Undergraduate school: Berklee College of Music
Undergraduate major: music education
Principal instrument: guitar
Languages spoken (other than English): a little Spanish
Why did you choose Berklee’s graduate program?
I chose Berklee's program because I teach students with moderate learning differences. The master’s with an autism concentration was the first program I've heard of that combined music education with focus on learning differences.
What was the most valuable thing you learned during your master’s program at Berklee?
I left my master’s program understanding more about students with learning differences and looking at them through a strength-based lens rather than through a deficit lens. Also, the diverse group of fellow graduate students I worked with have become friends and connections for me in the field of inclusive music education.
Briefly describe a memorable moment from your time in the graduate program.
One of my favorite moments was the final exam for our urban music education course. We all had to teach a song using the techniques we had learned. It was so satisfying, bringing a song to life with my classmates, who were all incredible musicians.
How do you use the skills acquired during your master’s program in your current teaching position?
As a teacher of students with learning differences, it was the first time that I learned from music educators who were also experts in special education. I always felt like an outlier at my school, because I knew a lot less about learning differences and special education in general than the classroom teachers. Now, I feel empowered to speak up and seek leadership positions, like my newly appointed team leader role.
What are your goals as an educator? Did your experience at Berklee help further those goals?
My goal as an educator is to become a leading expert on teaching elementary music to students with dyslexia, which my school focuses on. Through my deeper understanding of special education and different approaches to meeting the needs of diverse learners, I feel like I have moved from someone who could teach a class of students with dyslexia in music, to someone who could teach other teachers how to approach the same situation—with much more background knowledge, techniques, and terminology.