•                     MUSIC TOYS
    ST. LOUIS, MO, October 29, 2013 – The St. Louis Public School District has presented the Elementary Music Teacher of the Year and the Secondary Music Teacher of the Year Awards to two educators who have made significant and lasting contributions to the music teaching profession.


    To earn the Music Teacher of the Year Awards, nominees must explain their teaching philosophy and approach to teaching; be recommended by a principal and a professional colleague; and pass a classroom evaluation conducted by a team of professionals. 


    Ms. Kimberly Payne, a vocal music teacher at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, has been recognized as the St. Louis Public School District’s Elementary Music Teacher of the Year for creating a safe and orderly classroom while finding new and innovative ways to reach and relate to her students.


    “Ms. Payne uses her creativity to turn trash into music.  She uses bucket drumming and SOLO cups to teach rhythm.  She uses folk instruments and non-traditional instruments such as spoons and washboards, as well as games and traditional dances to engage her students in learning," said Jana Haywood, principal of Patrick Henry Downtown Academy. 

    An educator with the District since 2006, Ms. Payne not only develops life-long learners, she is one.  She is a member of the Missouri Music Educators Association and regularly attends music instructors conferences and workshops.  Ms. Payne has also cultivated community partnerships to advance the music program at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, securing 30 classroom guitars via a donation from the Classical Guitar Society of St. Louis.

    Mrs. Veronica Simms, a vocal music instructor at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy, has been named the St. Louis Public School District’s Secondary Music Teacher of the Year for her numerous accomplishments in her 35+ years with the District.

    Mrs. Simms, who proudly now teaches the children of her former students, was nominated by her principal and assistant principal.  In nominating her for the award, Principal Earl Williams said, "Mrs. Simms has deeply engaged our vocal music students by developing powerful and relevant lessons which advanced student learning."

    An educator with the District since 1976, Mrs. Simms has a simple motto: "If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain." 


    “As a music educator I am held accountable for producing a student who recognizes the value of music as it relates to all aspects of the curriculum. I AM A VOICE IN THE VILLAGE! I speak.  I teach. I care. I model.  I want to be a positive role model for my students," she says.  My students have auditioned and performed in the MMEA Metro District 8 Jazz and Concert Bands, performed in college bands to help finance their post-secondary education, and I have had several students pursue teaching careers in instrumental music while others pursued performance careers,” said Brown. Notably, one of her students performed with “Kool and the Gang” and “Earth, Wind and Fire”, two popular rhythm and blues groups in the 80’s and 90’s.


    The 2012 Music Teachers of the Year were honored with an awards reception and presented with a $1,000 award from Webster University.  In addition, they were presented with a trophy, a plaque, and a $500 award for related education materials through the Parsons Blewett Memorial Fund. 

    Group       McKinley       Henry