Monday, July 15, 2024

Country Music Foundation Names Yorktown Elementary Music Teacher a Teacher of Excellence

Taylor Walkup-Amos is celebrated at a surprise assembly to announce her being named a Country Music Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence. (Teresa Morris)

YORKTOWN — Taylor Walkup-Amos just finished up her second year as Yorktown Elementary School’s music teacher but not before a big surprise took place.

Walkup-Amos had applied earlier in the school year to be considered as a Country Music Association Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence. She sent in lesson plans, rehearsal and concert videos, and Walkup-Amos also had to discuss her career as an educator and the ways in which she has brought music to her students and the community that she teaches in.

After a long few months of no updates on the application, Walkup-Amos was surprised by school staff and students at an assembly to inform her she was one of the 30 teachers selected nationwide for the honor.

“My principal was the first to receive contact about the award. The administration put together this very sneaky surprise where they told me that I had to have a chorus rehearsal for a concert we were getting ready to have as part of the York County Arts Festival. I’m rehearsing with all of our second grade students as audience members with my chorus club and I turned around after I saw my entire school board office and my administrators — everyone was in the back of our cafeteria listening — so that was kind of a fun shock,” Walkup-Amos shared.

In addition to the award, Walkup-Amos has earned the York County School Division a $5,000 grant that will go toward music education at York Elementary. Walkup-Amos has decided that the funds will go toward purchasing more instruments for her classroom, so her Kindergarten through fifth grade students may experience more than the typical ones they are exposed to.

“It’s just a complete honor to be recognized. The foundation recognizes 30 educators from across the country and really shines light on the work that we do on a daily basis. It really meant the world to be lifted up in that way. I’ve been teaching for 11 years and I came into music education to inspire a love of music for children and that’s something that I’m deeply committed to. Then, to have an organization and to have artists at the top of their field, take a moment to recognize the work that’s done in school music, it’s very overwhelming and just a huge honor,” Walkup-Amos said.

In September, Walkup-Amos will be honored in Nashville with the other 30 winners. She will also get to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. There is also a morning seminar where all 30 honorees get together and participate in professional development that encourages collaboration.

Music education is truly in her heart, and Walkup-Amos looks forward to teaching her students each day.

“Music is something that really transcends school. It’s a part of all our communities and all of our cultures and so for children and individuals to have access to music education, it provides everyone with an access point and an understanding that music connects us all together. Music is just such a powerful tool to connect other people who may be different but brings us all together.”

For more information on the Country Music Association Foundation and to learn more about the other 29 educators who are 2024 Music Teachers of Excellence, visit cmafoundation.org.

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