Peers laud Arizona Music Teachers of the Year

Members of the Arizona Music Educators Association honored Mesa's Melanie Openshaw, Kelly Higgins, Walt Temme and Dorene Pool for their outstanding careers and contributions.

Melanie Openshaw, choral music teacher, Stapley Junior High, Red Mountain High
Arizona New Music Educator of the Year

Melanie Openshaw

Presented by the Arizona Choral Educators
(For the top Arizona teacher who has taught between one and three years) 

This is Openshaw's third year of teaching and her second year in Mesa Public Schools. She has been on the Arizona Choral Educators Board of Directors for three years as the new teacher ex-officio. This job encompasses reaching out to teachers who are new to teaching or new to the state and providing them information on Arizona festivals, workshops and conferences.

Two years ago, Openshaw chaired the All-State Jazz Clinic. This year, she took on the role of overall All-State Jazz chair, running auditions for more than 400 students, organizing the three day festival and working with the guest director. Openshaw is also an active member of the American Choral Directors Association. 

"I feel very honored to receive this award. It is very important to me to stay involved in my professional community and continue to improve my skills as an educator. I love learning from my colleagues in music education. My No. 1 priority is to be the best teacher I can be for my students. They deserve it." — Melanie Openshaw

Kelly HigginsKelly Higgins, general music and band teacher, Franklin East Elementary
Arizona Careers In Music Award Winner of the Year

Presented by the Arizona Music Educators Association
(For the Arizona teacher with the most outstanding career of merit for 25 years or more. Higgins' career began 36 years ago.) 

"I have been surprised and touched by the response from other music teachers since receiving this award.

"Taking young children from having little or no musical skill or knowledge to becoming skillful and independent musicians in a short amount of time is very rewarding. I am fortunate to be at Franklin East, where the students, parents, teachers and administrator value and support music tremendously." — Kelly Higgins

Walt TemmeWalt Temme, orchestra teacher, Mountain View High
Arizona Orchestra Teacher of the Year

Presented by the Arizona chapter of the American String Teachers Association 

"I'm so honored to receive this award, because it comes from my fellow string educators from throughout Arizona. I'm humbled that they selected me for this honor.

"I would like to recognize the many outstanding string educators we have throughout the state and their tireless pursuit of excellence in string education." — Walt Temme

Dorene PoolDorene Pool, orchestra teacherFranklin West, Sirrine, Pomeroy elementaries
Arizona Mentor Teacher of the Year 

(Selected by Arizona State University for the Arizona Music Educators Association)

"Many wonderful orchestra teachers in our district have shared their talent and experience with future educators, and I'm honored to be recognized for mentoring some of this next generation.

"Working with aspiring orchestra teachers has kept me on my toes, making me examine both their teaching and my own. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it reminds me why I chose this profession. I feel fortunate to teach in a district and community that values music education for our children." — Dorene Pool


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