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Spotlight on Erik Garcia, Music Teacher

Q:  How would you describe the DSC_2488culture of Education Through Music-LA?

Garcia:  “Everyone is really supportive; the team is great. I always love coming to the trainings because they’re really engaging; we do a lot, we get through a lot of work, and everybody really pitches in and helps each other learn. We’re all teachers, but we’re also all students and we strive to be better and grow together. In the past year that I’ve been with ETM-LA, that has really been the case. I love the teachers that I work with and we make each other better.”

Q:  How would you describe the culture of Rio Vista Elementary where you teach?

Garcia:  “Oh, it’s so supportive. It’s like a dream working here. I have the PTA, I have the administration. Everybody really wants each other to do well. Everyone just wants each other to succeed. It’s great communication and we accomplish a lot.”

Q:  Are there noticeable changes you see in your students and school?

Garcia:  The transformation that I see in the students are more social than anything else. They learn music, they work hard at what we do, but some of them really come out of their shell and it doesn’t really take long – maybe a few months into the year. I’ve seen kids go from really shy and not confident at all to out in the playground, making connections with people. That’s really what it’s all about. Living through art and being able to express in that way, making you whole. That’s probably the biggest transformation I’ve seen. On top of that, they get better at music because we’re trying so hard and we’re working so hard in the classrooms. So it’s a win-win everywhere.

Q:  How has teaching impacted you?

Garcia: “It’s impacted me on a personal level. I’ve become somewhat of a community role model and I take a lot of pride in that. It’s very rewarding to walk around and hear “Mr. Garcia! Mr. Garcia!” from all of the kids. I have that responsibility to uphold that standard here at the school, and anywhere I teach. I’m really proud to be doing what I do. I think my biggest area of growth as a teacher has been with leading students and helping them achieve goals. I’ve been working with kids for a long time now – I think maybe 9 or 10 years –  but I hadn’t been in the public school setting until now. It’s a whole different ballpark and a whole different structure, and you have to be very on top of things. I’ve been put through the ringer and I’m stronger because of it, so I think that’s probably been my biggest role.”

Q:  What are some words of wisdom you would give to an aspiring music teacher/educator?

Garcia: “If you’re thinking about entering the profession, definitely make sure that it is what you truly love to do. It is a calling to be a music teacher, and it is so amazing to enrich these kids’ lives. Make sure that you’re in it for the long haul.”