Anderson University senior music education major Kayla Shoemaker has worked hard to balance many roles: participating in musical productions, serving as president of a student music organization, directing a children’s choir, working in the Anderson University School of Music office, and taking regular college classes. All her work recently paid off when she received the prestigious Indiana Music Educators Association general music scholarship in August.
Ever since she was young, Shoemaker has taken advantage of every opportunity she could to gain experience and knowledge. Her parents are both teachers, so the Auburn, Ind., native grew up in the elementary classroom. “I’ve always had a passion for kids, but then I got really involved in high school music and decided I would combine my two loves of music and education,” said Shoemaker. [Photo on left: Kayla Shoemaker receives her award certificate from MaryAnn Fritz, coordinator of the IMEA conference.]
In February 2010, Shoemaker heard about the Indiana Music Educators Association scholarship from two of her professors, Dr. Susan Taylor and Professor Joani Brandon. Only one AU student is nominated each year for the scholarship — someone who goes “above and beyond” — and only one person throughout the state wins the scholarship each year.
“It is an honor that travels with the student on their résumé as being the one person who was chosen for this, so we really try to think of somebody who has a good chance of getting that,” said Brandon.
The lengthy application process included two professor recommendations, an essay on Shoemaker’s musical background experience, her philosophy on music education, and why she wants to become a music teacher. The criteria considered were strong academics, leadership in chapter organizations, and additional work with children or children’s programs beyond the applicant’s college requirements.
Shoemaker easily met all of these requirements. She is currently the president of AU’s student chapter of the National Association for Music Education, which participates in fundraising and attends various music education workshops throughout the year. She is also the children’s choir director at Central Christian Church in Anderson. Shoemaker spent several summers in charge of the music for vacation Bible school camps. Last summer, she worked as a counselor for AU’s music education camp for high school students. The camp consisted of workshops on conducting, aural skills, leadership seminars, and other activities so that students could get a glimpse of what being a music educator is all about.
Last summer, Shoemaker also worked in the School of Music as an office assistant for the Master of Music Education program and sat in on various training sessions. “We have six intense weeks with guest faculty from all over the country and she was working with us with all the different teachers that come in. We have over 100 teachers that come in to take classes,” said Brandon.
“Those teachers were very impressed by her and what she had to offer,” added Taylor.
Several factors made Shoemaker stand out above her competition, both at AU and statewide. One was her level of passion and dedication during a practicum for her elementary music education methods course. For this practicum, 50-75 homeschooled students, ranging from pre-school to age 11, came in once a week. The AU students taught them and worked closely with them.
“We’re looking for somebody who has a real passion, not for chorale or band or orchestra, but someone who really loves elementary general music and will do really well with that,” said Brandon. “Watching Kayla work in the homeschool situation really encouraged us to choose her. She was outstanding in that.”
Another deciding factor was Shoemaker’s passion. “She is, first and foremost, incredibly bright. She just has that teacher personality. When you watch her work with kids, she has a real connection with them,” said Taylor. “You look at a student like Kayla who is taking advantage of all kinds of opportunities to better herself, and not just because it’s a requirement or something she has to do. She has a real passion and sincere interest and is preparing to be a good teacher.”
Shoemaker attributes some of her success to her professors. “Professor Brandon and Dr. Taylor are two professors who have been very essential in my education. But I could honestly list the entire music faculty because I think all of them in general have been such a supportive family through all of this. They’ve all contributed in some way or another.”
What is the main reason behind all of Shoemaker’s hard work and activities? It all boils down to her own philosophy of music education. “I want to use music. I don’t want to necessarily just teach music,” said Shoemaker. “I want to use music for kids to grow, learn, and discover.”
— Alyssa Applegate is a senior from Dayton, Ohio, majoring in communication arts and minoring in Spanish. Applegate is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the eighth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.