Music education grad wins Canadian award for newer music teachers
Stephanie Poulin honoured by the Canadian Music Educators' Association for work as educator, community leader
Stephanie Poulin grew up in a northern Manitoba community in a family where no one played an instrument. But the Thompson native, a graduate of the U of M’s integrated bachelor of music/education program, says thanks to supportive parents who encouraged her to take piano and band classes, her love of music flourished.
Poulin, who graduated in 2009, is now a music specialist at Ryerson School and the president of the Manitoba Orff Chapter (MOC). Her hard work as both an educator and community leader—she has been involved in creating opportunities in music for students in rural communities—has paid off. Poulin was recently honored by the Canadian Music Educators’ Association, receiving the Builders Award for Newer Teachers.
“Stephanie has immeasurable and contagious energy while working with her students at school, involving everyone in her creative and ever-stimulating music program at Ryerson School in Winnipeg, from students to parents and the community at large. She inspires every new music teacher she mentors to become the best educator they can,” said a statement from the MOC.
Poulin says she was pleased to be rewarded for her efforts.
“I was definitely surprised and honoured I had been nominated, and I definitely didn’t expect to receive the award.”
She says she believes she received the award because of her work in the community, especially with the MOC. “What the Builders Award kind of represents is the community involvement and leadership and initiatives in advocating for music, not only at the school level, but also at community and national levels.”
Poulin first got involved in the MOC as a newly graduated teacher. She says it helped her to connect with other music teachers.
“It can be pretty isolating sometimes to be the only music specialist in your school and to even get together with the other music teachers in your division. It takes more effort than just walking down the hallway and connecting with a colleague.”
After two years as a member at large, she became president of the MOC. Upon thinking about growing up in a rural community, she realized that there was work to be done in terms of connecting rural teachers with professional development opportunities in music. “You really realize how isolated it is in terms of opportunities and support…I really wanted to reach out and offer opportunities where we could do professional development opportunities for teachers, not only the north but in rural areas in Manitoba.”
The group began offering travel bursaries for those in remote communities to attend urban workshops and started a program called Building Bridges Workshops where three school divisions in the province are offered professional development workshops each year.
Poulin also helped to create an annual celebration of and education about of the music of Carl Orff. Orff is well-known for his innovative approach to music education for children. This year’s event will be held June 4.
At Ryerson School, Poulin runs three orff ensembles, a guitar club and a Grade 4-6 choir.
Poulin says her education at U of M prepared her for her work as a music teacher. She praises the practicum, which allows music teachers to do three practicums at three different schools. She says the hands-on experience in the classroom was extremely helpful, as were her encouraging professors.
“I had some great support through my studies. We have an excellent music education program at the U of M.”
One of the key lessons she received was to ensure that she remained connected with other teachers.
“As a teacher, one of the most important things is building relationships—whether it’s with your colleagues or the students. That starts right in university.”