Meaghan Wilkes teaches music at Whitehouse Elementary School. This year, she was honored as the Teacher of the Year at her school and recognized for her outstanding achievements as a Florida Blue spotlight winner at JPEF's EDDY Awards. Thanks to a generous grant from Florida Blue, Ms. Wilkes bought 13 ukuleles for her class, their first string instruments.
We asked Ms. Wilkes a few questions to learn more about her work.
What is a day in your classroom like?
As the music teacher, I have the opportunity to teach all of the students at Whitehouse Elementary. All of the students are participating in hands-on musical learning opportunities. This includes playing various instruments and using scarves, parachutes, and other non-traditional items to make music learning more interactive.
Additionally, I have been able to expand the walls of my classroom and provide an opportunity for my students and their families to attend two different concerts, free of charge, in the month of April. Our school partnered with the Jacksonville Symphony and was the only elementary school host for Courtney Bryan, the Composer in Residence. The students worked with the composer on two occasions and even contributed to her work. Several of our students and their families attended the world premiere of her orchestral piece "Bridges." We were also given the opportunity to attend the Florida Chamber Music Project concert at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. These were both unique musical opportunities for our students and their families to experience!
Can you share a story of a student who you felt benefited from your class, or who impacted you?
I had the opportunity to attend music and dance recitals during the month of May for both current and former students. I attended concerts by former students who are now enrolled in music programs at LaVilla and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. As an elementary music teacher, I am THRILLED that my former students are continuing their arts education, and I appreciate the opportunity to support them in any way that I am able.
What do you love about your school?
I love teaching the students and working with the families of Whitehouse Elementary School. I love seeing students grow in their musical abilities from kindergarten to fifth grade and beyond!
How do you plan to spend your award money? Why is this exciting to you?
I have spent my award money on 13 ukuleles. I am glad to add more instrumentation for the students to learn and experience, especially since these are the first string instruments that have been added to our music program.
Thanks to Ms. Wilkes and all the teachers in Duval County who make a difference in the lives of students each day. Learn more about the EDDY Awards and how you can help support great teachers in Duval County through the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.