An ever-enthusiastic and smiling Margie Looney was recognized as the Cochise County Teacher of the Year at the Annual Teacher of the Year Awards Banquet on April 4, 2014, in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
“When my principal, Mr. Patterson, initially told me I was nominated I was extremely excited and honored. When I got the phone call that I was a finalist I was ecstatic!” Looney said, blushing. “Then, at the banquet when they called my name for Cochise County Teacher of the Year I was shocked! I was beyond thrilled and very honored.” She recognized that the competition was stiff, with many excellent teachers among the 16 finalists. Her humility in receiving what she refers to as “a giant award” is typical of the larger-than-life dedication she has to her students.
Margaret “Margie” Looney was raised in Arlington, Texas, where she first learned to play the viola. By the time she was in 10th grade, her orchestra teacher had suggested she teach private violin and viola lessons. She took that advice and soon had her own studio with over 20 students. Looney’s mother and family members are successful music educators and inspired her to create a high standard for her classes. Recognizing the difference she was making in her students’ lives, Margie decided to make music her profession.
Looney is a member of Willcox 2nd Ward in the St. David Arizona Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she shares her talents often. She performs every chance she gets with accompanist Julie Nolan of Willcox 1st Ward. She says it thrills her to be able to continue to challenge herself and perform with such a high-level musician. Sisters Looney and Nolan are frequently asked to perform their beautiful arrangements in sacrament meetings. Always the teacher, Looney embraces the opportunity, knowing that the many of her students and future students are in the congregation, and that they may think, “One day, I want to do that.”
She supports them in becoming the best musicians they can be. At whatever level they are, she tutors area youth to help them learn to accompany the ward choir or perform during the annual Primary sacrament meeting program. Margie Looney wants her students to ultimately be able to express themselves through music. Her strategy is, “Believing in them and opening new doors for them, helping them find new talents they didn’t know they had.”
“My faith in Jesus Christ helps me be a better teacher because I know my students’ eternal worth. They, too, are sons and daughters of God who, like me, will make mistakes and need love and patience from our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior atoned for not only my sins but theirs, too. I believe my faith makes me a better teacher because it provides an eternal perspective in my classroom. “
Looney expects much of herself and her students and they respond to efforts aimed at “bringing the school orchestra program to a whole new level of excellence.” She also enjoys the personal connection she has with her students and their parents. Jocelyn Allred of Willcox 2nd Ward says, “She is wonderful!! My kids are so happy to have her as a teacher! We are lucky to have her in Willcox and in our ward!” Gary Clement, who is also the parent of one of Looney’s students, a member of Willcox 1st Ward, and a school board member, stated that his son Nathan “is strutting, saying ‘she’s MY teacher.’”
Miss Looney’s example is destined to have lasting impact in many ways.
Those interested in hearing the fruits of Miss Looney’s labors are invited to the Spring Strings Concert on May 15, 2014 at the Willcox High School Auditorium, 240 N. Bisbee Avenue, at 7:00PM.