Alumna Kayla Werlin wins Music Teacher of Excellence national award
Monday, March 30, 2020
Monday, March 30, 2020
Kayla Werlin ‘90MM has been named one of this year’s Music Teachers of Excellence by the Country Music Association Foundation. Launched in 2016, the award seeks to honor teachers of all musical styles who “demonstrate exemplary teaching and student learning, and are committed to making a positive impact on their school and community while raising awareness for the broader cause of music education.” To date, the CMA Foundation has honored 120 music teachers and donated over $700K to support their excellence.
The Foundation honors 30 teachers with this national award – 20 from Tennessee where the foundation is based, and 10 from other states. Each winner receives two $2,500 grants – one for their school district, and the other for their own professional development. Werlin, who serves as chair of Longmeadow High School’s music department and leads three vocal ensembles there, is planning to donate her share to the school to fill various needs, such as helping students purchase instruments, and to other school districts that also need help with their music programs.
“Our school and administration have been really good about recognizing the importance of music education for kids, but there are always needs that crop up,” commented Werlin in an interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The application process for the award included letters of recommendation, a videotaped class lesson, and essays outlining her teaching philosophy, her goals as an instructor, her personal approach to music and her past work as a choral director. The award came with a handwritten letter from one of CMA’s leaders. “I remember writing that one of my greatest joys in teaching is that my students find their voices, literally and figuratively,” Werlin said, “and that’s what [the CMA letter] touched on. Nothing is more important to me than students finding their voices and learning to express themselves in music.”
Werlin, who has taught at Longmeadow High since 1999, has been recognized with a number of other awards. Most recently, she received the Massachusetts Instrumental Conductors Association's Hall of Fame Award in 2019, and the Lowell Mason Award from Massachusetts Music Educators Association the year prior. She’s a past president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, and some of her Longmeadow High choirs have performed in other parts of the U.S. and in Europe. She currently sings in Cantabile, an a capella chamber group that specializes in Renaissance-era music.