At this year’s Clovis Municipal Schools districtwide convocation, Brian Uerling was announced as the school district’s Teacher of the Year.
Uerling is the music and band instructor at Ranchvale Elementary School and has been teaching music for more than three decades. He is
passionate about music as an art form and vehicle for expressing feelings.
“I was taught art and music by very enthusiastic teachers at the elementary level,” he said. “Their excitement about what they taught has given me a lifelong appreciation and desire for personal experiences and encounters with the arts.”
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 32 years, in Nebraska, Missouri and New Mexico. I have been with the Clovis Municipal Schools for 16 years, 10 of which have been at Ranchvale.
I also taught choral music for the original Gattis Junior High School as well as Clovis High School.
What is your educational and music background?
I have two bachelor’s degrees from Hastings College (Hastings, Neb.). The first was in music history and literature and business, and the second in music education. I received my master’s degree in music education from Eastern New Mexico University in 2000.
I began taking piano lessons from Barbara Zaroban when I was 7 years old, and continued studying throughout my college years.
I have taught all areas over the last 32 years — band, choir, orchestra, music theory, piano and elementary general music.
Tell us a little about the Teacher of the Year Award. How did it feel to win the award?
It was very humbling to win the Teacher of the Year award. I know how many fantastic educators are working for the Clovis Municipal Schools, and how many worthy candidates there are for this honor. They don’t tell you before the convocation that you are the award winner, so it is a big surprise.
What types of programs and teaching methods have you initiated to get your students interested in learning?
I have always been interested in student learning and growth beyond my classroom doors.
In 2012, I was instrumental in the procurement and installation of the “RVL” Weather Broadcasting Station, which is a member of the KVII (Amarillo) School Net Weather System. It broadcasts weather statistics from Ranchvale in real time via computer to KVII, and these appear on every weather news show broadcast by them.
I was also the instigator behind the “Traveling Art Gallery” for the elementary schools. We order 12 large giclee prints by famous master artists each year, and rotate them throughout the Clovis elementary schools throughout the school year.
How are you involved in music outside the classroom?
I teach private piano lessons after school, as well as a few private voice lessons for the Clovis High School choirs. I am also the director of music for Kingswood United Methodist Church. I am currently serving a two-year term as the choral vice president for the New Mexico Music Educators Association. I am in charge of organizing 1,200 state-wide choral auditions for the all-state choirs, and organizing the choral portions of our January in-service clinic and conference for about 600 student musicians and all of their instructors.
What makes music important to you? Why are you passionate about it?
The main reason that I teach music is that music is art. The arts train the emotions in a healthy way, so that we know how to express our inner selves in an emotionally repressed and stress-filled world.
Music allows us the freedom and capability of exploring our FEELINGS. My highest hope is that, as a result of instruction in the arts, students will realize what a vibrant and exciting world awaits them as participants in, and consumers of, music and the related arts.
CDs, DVDs and prints have their use, but will never take the place of singing in a choir, or playing in an orchestra or band, or visiting concert halls, ballet and opera houses, museums and galleries.
— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Emily Crowe and edited for length and clarity