A local elementary school music teacher has been named one of the quarterfinalists for the Grammy Foundation and The Recording Academy’s Music Educator Award.
Arnold Elementary PTO President Jen Cornett nominated Siema Swartzel for the work she does with the students in kindergarten through the fifth grade. The local music teacher was one of 7,000 nominations from all 50 states.
The nomination surprised Swartzel. The news she was listed as one of the 222 music teachers from across the country considered for the award overwhelmed her.
Swartzel explained it never crossed her mind to teach for any reason outside of educating her students.
“My kids face challenges that are really adult size,” she said. “I want my time with them to be a time where they can just be kids and have fun. I just try to find ways to challenge them and make them feel good.
“I want them to feel happy when they are with me.”
The purpose of the Music Educator Award is to recognize the contributions of teachers at the kindergarten to the college level for their influence on the country’s “musical landscape.”
The foundation and academy will eventually narrow the 222 quarterfinalists into a more manageable 10 finalists. One teacher will then be chosen from the finalists to attend the Grammys, receive a $10,000 honorarium and a $10,000 grant for his or her school. Affiliated with the Grammy Awards, the academy’s stated goal is “to positively impact the lives of musicians, industry members and our society at large.”
Swartzel said she would be satisfied with the quarterfinalist recognition, if she had not heard about the possibility of winning $10,000 for Arnold Elementary.
The money could benefit both her students and the school as a whole.
It could open doors currently closed to her classes due to funding constraints.
“I want them to develop a lifelong love for music,” Swartzel said. “They may not all be music teachers or music performers, but they are going to be music listeners. They are going to encourage their own children to be involved in music. They are going to be the patrons of the arts.”
Quarterfinalists must complete several videos and written essays to be considered for the next level of the competition.
The additional material provided by the quarterfinalists will be reviewed and scored by a Screening Committee. Both music educators and professionals serve on the committee. Those selected will become semifinalists. These names will be announced in September. Finalists will reportedly be alerted in December.
Swartzel will be well in to the 2014-15 school year by the time the announcements are made. She is determined to provide her students with a positive musical experience, whether or not she continues to the next round.
She explained music is more than just notes and instruments. Children hone public speaking skills, learn deportment and find their voice in Swartzel’s class.
“You cannot put a price for a child on self concept,” she said. “You want them to know they are capable. They are winners. They can do this.”