2017 Viola Award Nominee for Excellence in Arts Education

Sheila White makes her impression on the Flagstaff music community as both an educator and a community musician. She is currently the general music, world drumming, and beginning band instructor at Marshall Magnet Elementary School (MMES). She also plays in the Flagstaff Community Band and works as the Orchestra Manager for Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra (FSO), as well as performing as a member of the clarinet section.

Ms. White’s impact on MMES students goes far beyond the music program. She is the creator of the 2016 Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program at MMES. This school-wide program was developed to define, implement, and evaluate a multi-tiered system of support which includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create a positive school environment. Additionally, her special education dual certification and dedication to parental involvement makes her an irreplaceable asset at MMES.

Ms. White’s work at MMES demonstrates a firm belief in integrating music with other subjects. As a Keeping Score trained teacher (San Francisco Symphony Education Program), she works tirelessly to teach mathematics, science, social studies and language arts in her expertly crafted lesson plans. She uses her preparation time to meet with classroom teachers to collaborate on unique units that use music to enhance individual classroom units. In 2016 alone she created the following units: Poetry through her song lyric unit for grade 5, Westward Expansion and the 12-Bar Blues for grades 4 and 5, Music Notation and Narratives through writing “Trouble in Treble Clef” for grade 3, Animals and their Communities with her World Music Drumming program for grade 2, Science of Sound for grade 1, and kindergarten musicals integrating science and language arts through four separate Jack and The Beanstalk productions. Over 580 K-5th grade students benefit annually from her outstanding unique instruction and integrated curriculum at MMES alone.


Ms. White also sees the value in connecting elementary school musicians with the wider music community. Ms. White’s Link Up program integrates music from FSO in her monthly classroom lessons. She also coordinated band collaborations with Mount Elden Middle School (MEMS) and Flagstaff High School (FHS) in 2016. Through these collaborations, she not only exposed beginning band students to higher levels of music education, but also provided FHS students with multiple leadership opportunities at MMES and MEMS.

Ms. White has put in a lot of effort to develop a world drumming program at MMES. In order to further her skills and understanding of the artform, she spent her summer in a world drumming professional development seminar. She then raised over $4,700 to purchase drums so all Marshall students could participate in her “World Drumming Experience” program. Students were then able to exhibit their skills by performing at MEMS and downtown in Heritage Square.

The music program implemented at Marshall gained attention at the state level and won the Governor’s Arts Award in 2013. Within the program each grade level focuses on differing aspects of arts education free of charge during school hours. In collaboration with the Suzuki Violin Program for K-2, Ms. white furthers learning through a Music Mind Games curriculum. There are clear benefits for students who are involved in this kind of music education. The pedagogical emphasis of instrumental music instruction helps to develop the whole child especially in the areas of problem solving, creative thinking and working memory. With Ms. White’s involvement, students are showing more motivation by exhibiting an interest in school, creativity, self-confidence and pride.

FUSD Staff Page

FSO Staff Page

Sheila White – Arts Education winner