Four inspiring finalists have been selected for the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year from thousands of music teachers around Australia.
They are Bel Skinner (North Regional TAFE, WA), Antonio Chiappetta (St Andrews College, Marayong, NSW), Julia Rennick (Gunnedah Conservatorium, NSW) and Lee Strickland (Narbethong State Special School, Qld).
The Australian Government supports the critical role of teachers and promotes music education through the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program (NMTMP), which is delivered by the Australian Youth Orchestra.
The program was designed by the late Richard Gill OAM to increase access to quality music education for all Australian primary school students. It seeks to establish mentoring relationships between music education professionals and generalist classroom teachers with the goal of enriching music education practice in Australian classrooms.
One of the 4 nominees, early childhood teacher Julia Rennick, counts being chosen as an NMTMP mentor as a career highlight. ‘It’s the joy of it and building a whole human,’ Julia said. ‘Research abounds about the benefits of music for young children. I don’t actually need the research. I witness the results every single day.’
Antonio Chiappetta loves inspiring high school students. ‘I value the fact that students walk into my classroom and have fun,’ Antonio said. ‘Music has given me the power to make it exciting. I love what I do. I always say to my students you’ve got to enjoy what you do.’
Bel Skinner travels tens of thousands of kilometres around remote Western Australia to reach her TAFE students. ‘I’m based in Broome but my job takes me all over the Kimberley and Pilbara,’ Bel said. ‘Every few weeks I pack the car, load all the gear and hit the road to work with my students in remote communities across the region.’
Lee Strickland is also changing lives through teaching music to students with disability, adapting instruments so everyone can participate. ‘I feel I'm very blessed to be a music teacher because I get to see the changes it makes in the kids and their families through the power of music,’ Lee said. ‘Our music program has given a voice to those who can’t talk, rhythm for those who cannot walk and a platform for our students to grow up as unique individuals.’
The winner will be announced at this year’s ARIA Awards on 27 November.