Rocky band teacher Kim Hastings is heading to the 2019 Juno Awards.
The Pioneer Middle School instructor was “overwhelmed” to be chosen MusiCounts Teacher of the Year on Tuesday.
The honour — given to only one outstanding Canadian music teacher — comes with a $10,000 cash prize for Hastings, as well as an invitation to attend the 2019 Juno Awards in London, Ont., along with a guest.
The central Alberta teacher was presented with a crystal statuette and will attend the Juno gala on March 16. MusiCounts is also making a contribution to her school’s music program.
Hastings, who’s taught in Rocky Mountain House for 27 years, was lured out of the classroom on a pretext on Tuesday morning. When she returned, she was surprised with the award, which was presented to her in front of her students.
“I was quite shocked,” said Hastings, who was thrilled with the prize and honour.
Hastings is gratified Pioneer Middle School will get a contribution for the purchase of more musical instruments for students. She also looks forward to being able to travel to Toronto, where her two children are taking post-secondary studies in music.
The teacher’s philosophy has always been that “music is for everybody, not just for an elite.
“It doesn’t matter if somebody is the best player, what matters that they all get a chance to play,” regardless of family income or circumstances, she added.
Hastings said she’s seen the transformative effect music has on students — enhancing their academic success, and for some kids, being the main reason they like school.
Since 2005, the national music charity MusiCounts has been paying tribute to the accomplishments of one exceptional music teacher each year.
“We … recognize the impact (Hastings) has made… She has worked tirelessly to make the music program at Pioneer Middle School accessible to all students, and her advocacy for music education has had a positive impact on curriculums at both the local and provincial level,” said MusiCounts executive director Kristy Fletcher.
“It has been very special to celebrate with Kim, her colleagues and students here today.”