Angela Carpenter, Bedford resident and teacher at Lexington’s Harrington Elementary School, is among the 216 quarterfinalists for the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator Award, a list narrowed from the thousands of teachers nominated around the country.
Carpenter has taught at Harrington for five years, after teaching in various towns around New York State for nine years upon graduating from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.
She views her role as an educator as an opportunity to help her students grow as people through music. “I know my job is to teach you to become a better singer and to be able to read music and play an instrument, but what I also want you to become is a kind person, someone who has a lot of empathy for others,” she says. “I want the students to be able to take what we do in music class and not just have it be a musical experience, but learn those life lessons they can take into the rest of their life.”
In class, Carpenter prefers to use group work over individual work as one method of teaching communication and cooperation, emphasizing that, “you can learn a lot, not just from one person but from the whole group, which is where it becomes a team-building exercise.”
The pool of 216 quarterfinalists will be narrowed to 15 semifinalists in September; each will each receive $500 for their school. Then 10 finalists will receive $1,000 each, and finally the winner will receive $10,000 and a trip to the 2021 GRAMMY Awards.
As part of the application for the quarterfinals round, Carpenter was asked how she has educated students during the Covid-19 pandemic. She explained that distance learning has been an opportunity for her to really connect with her students. “I’ve gotten to chat with the kids and really get to know them on a totally different level,” which she said was especially important for the students as well.
“My teaching philosophy is to really make sure that the kids feel like they’re being seen, being valued, and being respected. I think that during the closure time that was even more important, especially since the only people they were seeing were the people in their families.”
While the upcoming rounds of the GRAMMY competition are exciting, Carpenter said she’s just honored to have gotten as far as she has and hopes to continue to impart these lessons to her students. “I’m using music as a vehicle to make them better people,” she says, a message which has led her to be recognized as a quarterfinalist for the GRAMMY award.