Margie Looney, Orchestra Director at Willcox Middle School in Willcox, Arizona, is the recipient of the 2014 Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year Award. Her selection was announced Saturday, Sept. 20th, at the annual Arizona Rural Schools Association Conference in Flagstaff.
Looney was named Cochise County Teacher of the Year in April, and is still a nominee for National Rural Teacher of the Year. She will travel to San Antonio in October for the National Rural Education Association convention at which the national winner will be named. She is also in the running for the Arizona Education Foundation Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced in November.
Margie attended the state awards dinner with her mother, who was moved to tears when she heard her daughter’s name announced. “My family is very excited for me and extremely proud of me,” Looney said. “Although they miss me in Texas, they couldn’t be more elated that my efforts are making a difference in Willcox, Arizona.”
Since Looney received the award for Cochise County, she and her students have been more inspired to give their best each day, knowing their efforts are making a difference. She says this award doesn’t belong just to her; she considers it her students’ award as well. She says this award doesn’t belong just to her; she considers it her students’ award as well.
This honor on the state level has given the Willcox orchestra program a lot of press, as well as making news at school. “When I announced to my students that I won Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year Award, they all cheered and clapped. They were so excited for me! A few of the younger students exclaimed, ‘Oh Ms. Looney, we already knew you were going to win! We knew that a long time ago!’” Looney hopes the recognition will foster success in the orchestra program, boosting enrollment and encouraging students to excel.
She also hopes these distinctions will inspire district administrators and local politicians to continue to encourage the arts in the schools because of the impact learning to play music has on students’ live. She teaches her students to recognize that they have unlimited potential, and that they have the power to open the door to attain any desired accomplishment. Through hard work, discipline, respect, and working together as a group, these students who once knew nothing about their instruments can create beautiful music together.” How amazing our world would be if we could all work together like students in a musical ensemble do.”“That is a huge deal!” exclaims Looney. “I want my students to know that they can overcome any boundaries, lines, or barriers between each other and learn to work together. Because that is what they have been doing all along in orchestra. This is a skill I believe many people in the ‘real world’ have lost. How amazing our world would be if we could all work together like students in a musical ensemble do.”
Ms. Looney is a member of the Willcox 2nd Ward, St. David Arizona Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The principles she lives by influence her work with her students as she teaches them with love and understanding. She is happy just to make a difference in their lives.