Among this year’s Golden Apple award winners, a teacher who found her passion when she was in high school.
Now, she’s passing that passion along to her students at Desert Ridge Middle School.
“I teach because I love kids, and I teach music because I love music, so it’s a great life,” Donna Schmidt said.
Music teacher Donna Schmidt started playing tuba when she was 11. Her professional journey in music started when she was in high school.
“I had an incredibly inspirational high school band director who I admired very much, and at some point in high school I thought, ‘I could make a life out of this,'” she said.
These days, one of her greatest joys is helping a student who has never played an instrument before find one that fits them.
“One of those moments that continues to be a little bit magical is the first time my students play hot cross buns,” Schmidt said.
After 23 years of teaching, the precious moments in the classroom are what keeps her going.
“The thing that keeps me going as a teacher is light bulb after light bulb, and the enthusiasm of students when they are making music. It’s incredible,” Schmidt said.
“One of the things I feel most passionate about is that kids experience beauty everyday… is that they not only enjoy listening to music and experience great art, but that they also learn to create beautiful music,” she explained.
Now, Schmidt is being recognized as one of the very best teachers in the state, and she wants that type of experience for her students.
“To be recognized at this level for just being a good teacher means the world to me,” Schmidt said.
“I feel like so many of our students don’t feel like they’re seen until they receive recognition, and I feel like there are adults just like that, that recognition is powerful,” she continued.
The world class teacher has just one more wish for her students.
“And they take that with them as an adult and they find a way to incorporate music at some level in their life,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also taught and performed at the University of New Mexico where she was part of the New Mexico Brass Quintet.
If you know an outstanding elementary school teacher, the Golden Apple Foundation is accepting nominations through April 30.
Golden Apple 2018.