NORMAN — Within the walls of Sandy Knudson’s classroom, young minds blossom as they explore music.
It’s a task Knudson, a Norman Public School music educator currently teaching at Adams Elementary, takes seriously and one she’s been recognized for recently as an Oklahoma Music Educators Association 2013 Hall of Fame recipient.
During her acceptance speech at the OMEA conference in Tulsa in January, Knudson said she is frequently asked why she teaches elementary music.
“Because I work with young children, I have the privilege of laying foundations. Because we practice using our right and left hands and feet and work on beat competence, band directors have a marching band,” she replied. “Because we dance and listen to the ‘Nutcracker’ and other beautiful classic pieces, the high school orchestra can play them.
“Because we help students find a singing voice and teach them how to navigate an octavo, choir directors have an ensemble. There is nothing more delightful than to nurture the musical spirit of children or see the brightness in their eyes. Every day, we serve an extravagant feast for the musical palette. What could be better?”
The OMEA recognition is the highest state honor in the music education profession. Knudson was selected for her passion for mentoring teacher candidates and colleagues as well as her tireless efforts to music education and appreciation inside and outside the classroom.
In addition to being a full-time teacher, Knudson has had an extensive list of accomplishments, including acting as the artistic director of Norman Children’s Chorus; serving as co-chair of the Music and Conductor Committee for the NPS All-City Fifth-Grade Concert, president of the Oklahoma Kodály Educators and a member of the National Choir Committee; being guest conductor for honor choirs in Louisiana, Missouri, Texas and Kentucky; and being guest conductor throughout Oklahoma at Circle the State with Song festivals.
Requirements for the Hall of Fame include having completed 25 years of active service as a music teacher or administrator, made a significant contribution to music education in Oklahoma, been a member of OMEA or the National Association for Music Education, served OMEA in a significant region or state capacity and demonstrated excellence in teaching music.
Growing up in Kansas City, Mo., Knudson said she anticipated joining the family pharmacy business. Positive music experiences in middle and high school prompted her to pursue music education.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, as well as her master’s and Kodály certification from the University of Oklahoma.
She is also a National Board teacher.
Knudson has been teaching music at Adams since 1990.
She was selected as Adams’ teacher of the year in 1997.
She also has taught at both Cleveland and Eisenhower elementary schools.
Helping children achieve “a-ha” moments when discovering something new about music is Knudson’s passion.
“I feel really strongly that only the best is good enough for children, and they can be lots of things if we just give them the opportunity,” she said.
Brad Benson, NPS fine arts director, described Knudson as the epitome of a great educator.
“Sandy is always willing to share her expertise with others,” he said. “And, most importantly, every day and every school year, she inspires hundreds of students to love music and to become the best that they can be.”
Knudson said she is grateful for the career she’s led up to this point.
“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to teach in Norman Public Schools. It’s really a wonderful place to teach,” she said. “I’ve had wonderful colleagues, wonderful mentors and wonderful students, and when you look at the big picture, the big circle of people in my life, I’m very blessed.”
For more information on OMEA, visit okmea.org.