Sylvan Lake teacher nominated for prestigious award

H.J. Cody music teacher Kerry Heirsler was shortlisted for an award from MusiCounts

Ecole H.J. Cody School’s music teacher Kerry Heisler has been nominated for MusiCounts’ Teacher of the Year Award.

The nomination for the award comes after the school received a $10,000 grant from MusiCounts towards the H.J. Cody’s music program.

The grant was used to outfit the music department with a set of orchestra bells, new chimes, a professional trumpet and other instruments.

Though Heisler did not ultimately receive the title of Teacher of the Year, she says she feels honoured to have been shortlisted, and is grateful for the grant the school received.

“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 Heisler.

She said to be nominated for the award was a humbling experience.

“I glance up from my music stand and look at these kids, and know I’ve spent all these years in the right place.”

The nomination package for Heisler was full of comments from former students, and parents who voiced their support of the seasoned instructor.

One parent wrote their children continued to pursue music into their young adult lives, and attributes it to Hiesler’s influence.

“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,” one parent wrote in the nomination package. “[Heisler] is definitely committed to ensuring all under her leadership have the opportunity to participate and experience music.”

Heisler has worked tirelessly for her students, from building and modifying instruments so they are more accessible to students, to bringing in clinicians to work with her students in a new way.

She has also studied the neuroscience of music to help further her advocacy for music education.

Jacqui Renwick, the drama teacher at the high school, was instrumental in preparing the nomination package and, called Heisler a gifted and dedicated instructor.

“She proves on a daily basis that she wants the student, the person and the musician to thrive under her tutelage,” said Renwick.

The MusiCounts award criteria includes passion, advocacy, experience, inclusivity, adaptability, recognition and inspiration.

MusiCounts is also affiliated with the JUNO Awards and “celebrates musical excellence and works towards ensuring all children and youth in Canada have access to music education.

A letter from MusiCounts stated the hard work Heisler has put in has not gone unnoticed by the selection committee, or her colleagues and students.

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