Kay Black, a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate in music education, has been honored as Orchestra Teacher of the Year for her success in sharing music with children.
The award recognizes superior music teaching and was presented by the Wisconsin chapter of the American String Teachers Association.
"It's nice to be recognized for the work you do because there are so many great people in the field of education," Black said. "I myself have nominated my colleagues for recognition like this."
She teaches music to fifth- and sixth-graders at Rome Corners Intermediate School in Oregon. Her interest in people and culture led her into the field of music education. "Teaching becomes a very intimate subject," she said. "You get this window into the soul and you get to see how kids think and feel."
Black graduated in 1995 with a degree in music education from UW-Whitewater, where she was inspired by her instructors.
"The professors at UW-Whitewater -- Dr. [Glenn] Hayes, George Ferencz -- all of them shaped the way I teach and the way I think about music," she said.
Black also received a master's degree in music with an emphasis in orchestra in 2005 from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
She is a freelance performer, plays the violin and viola for the Kenosha Symphony, and directs the choir at her church. She feels that continuing to play is integral to teaching her students.
"Education is always changing," she said. "I have to be able to be a model for my students."