H.J. Cody celebrates teacher nomination for prestigious award

By rdnewsNOW staff
February 28, 2019 - 10:34am

Kerry Heisler, who has taught music at École H.J. Cody High School in Sylvan Lake for over 20 years, was shortlisted for the prestigious MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.

Her nomination was invited by MusiCounts after the organization provided a $10,000 grant to the school last year. MusiCounts, which is affiliated with the JUNO Awards, celebrates musical excellence and works towards ensuring all children and youth in Canada have access to music education. Heisler was already thrilled with the initial infusion of funds for the school’s music program, and outfitted her classroom with a set of orchestra bells, new chimes, a professional trumpet and other instruments. Then came the news she was shortlisted for consideration for the Teacher of the Year Award through the organization and, although she wasn’t named the final recipient, she rightfully feels honoured for their consideration.

“I feel like I’ve already won, because this is my 21st year at this school and I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else,” said Kerry. “I love the kids at this school and there is an incredible amount of talent here. It’s very humbling to be considered for an award for something I love to do. I glance up from my music stand and look at these kids, and know I’ve spent all these years in the right place.”

Countless people who have been impacted by Kerry’s skill and enthusiasm agree. Her nomination package includes comments from former students, many of whom have gone on to study music at university and impact the music industry themselves. Parents voiced appreciation for her encouragement of their children: “The music program was the saving grace for our sons who both have disabilities, providing them a place to belong, to develop their talents, and to be treated just like everyone else,” said one parent. “My children have continued to pursue music in their young adult lives. It’s hard to say whether it’s because they love music or because they love Mrs. Heisler! She is definitely committed to ensuring all under her leadership have the opportunity to participate and experience music.”

Heisler has been known to build and modify instruments to make them more accessible to students, and she has brought clinicians into the classroom to guide her students when necessary. She has taken workshops on the neuroscience of music as part of her advocacy for the importance of music education.

“She proves on a daily basis that she wants the student, the person and the musician to thrive under her tutelage,” said Jacqui Renwick, H.J. Cody Drama teacher who assisted in putting the nomination package forward. “Kerry is a gifted music educator and she has not only built the high school music program, she has been an unrelenting support for the entire middle school and elementary population in our town. She is an outstanding advocate for their music programs – she coordinates the annual Spring Sing that brings five schools together for one community concert each year, she performs with her high school students at each of the schools to inspire young students to get involved in music, and she coordinates opportunities for high school students to mentor young musicians. It is a pleasure to watch her teach and to be mentored in my own way by a master educator.”

The MusiCounts award criteria includes passion, advocacy, experience, inclusivity, adaptability, recognition and inspiration. “As you can imagine, narrowing the dozens of nominations that we received for this award down to a select few was an immensely difficult task,” noted a letter from MusiCounts. “Congratulations, again, on behalf of everyone here at MusiCounts and the JUNO Awards, for being selected as a finalist for this prestigious and exciting award. The impact that you have had on the lives of your students and colleagues has not gone unnoticed!”

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