I have always had a passion for the arts. In my childhood dreams, I was a famous actress, a dancer, a musician. I watched musicals and taught myself the choreography. I was an entertainer.
In middle school, I took dance classes and learned to play the trumpet, becoming first chair in the advanced band ensemble after only one semester. I joined every ensemble on campus—marching band, jazz band, orchestra and wind ensemble. I looked forward to performing in the state’s University Interscholastic League (UIL) solo and ensemble competition, and my performances received high ratings.
When it was time for me to go to college, I knew that I wanted to study what I was most passionate about—music. It only felt right to study what I always loved. And besides that, I wanted to avoid math as much as possible! At that time, it was not my goal to become a teacher. I wanted a successful career in music.
The journey to teaching
So, what led me to teaching music at Alexander Elementary in Houston, Texas?
It started when a college professor asked me about my career plans after college. When I told him that I wanted to be a musician, he surprised me by asking, “Why don’t you become a teacher?” At first, I balked at the suggestion. I didn't want to be a teacher. I had my mind set on being a musician.
I remember seeing the disconnect between teachers and students when I was growing up. In fact, I had vowed to never become a teacher.
My professor then said something that changed my view of education forever. He had noticed my passion for music, and he knew that I loved to perform. He said, “You can be a musician, if that’s what you want to be. You have a gift of music that you can share with children.”
That’s when I had an “aha moment." I remembered the joy I felt as a student in music classes, and I started to realize that I could be responsible for igniting that same light in students, instilling within them the same passion that I had for the performing arts, all with a stable career with steady growth opportunities.
A musician steps into the classroom
I was extremely excited when I began teaching elementary music. I embraced this career with no hesitation. As a music teacher, I play a major role in the development of children. I am deeply involved in their growth and development through positive relationships with each student.
Everyone is connected to music in some way. Humans are born for movement and the ability to put that movement to music. Years of medical studies have proven that music has a profound effect on children's social, emotional and cognitive development. The right side of the child’s brain is used for creative activities such as music and the left side of the brain is used for the higher level thinking that is necessary for academics. As a music teacher, I could help teach the whole child.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, children must have their basic needs for food, safety and belonging met in order to reach the self-actualization that education has the potential to give them. Children need a motivator, listener and supporter. As a music educator, I can help guide students in reaching their ultimate potential.
The measure of a great music career
I have found my successful music career as a music educator. Throughout my years of teaching, I have produced more than thirty musical programs! My love for performance has spread to many of my students, and several joined the band or orchestra in intermediate school.
I now provide opportunities every day for students to display their talents, especially boys who need an outlet to express themselves in a positive way. I established the “All Star Boyz Step Team,” teaching the importance of leadership, self-discipline and brotherhood. The step team performs all over the city. Other than teaching boys the art of stepping, I help prepare them for their future, exposing them to new experiences, building their self-confidence and reinforcing ethical standards.
Being in the field of music education also has opportunities for advancement. I can visualize myself making a lateral move to become a high school band director or fine arts director. Or, I can advance to the college level and become a professor of music.
Playing it forward
Teachers set the foundation of society. It is extremely satisfying to inspire, motivate and encourage students. I am an advocate for teaching children. I enjoy working with my students and building relationships with them. It makes me happy to see them having fun while they learn.
I think my middle school self would be proud of me now—dancing, singing, choreographing and playing music every day while inspiring others. I have truly found my purpose in life.
How will you play your passions forward?
Pamela lives her love of the arts every day in the classroom. Whether you get excited by poetry, pottery or protons, there’s a teaching job for that! Want to find out if teaching is good fit for you?