Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Music - Cello Performance Masters in Education - Secondary Ed with Music Endorsement

Mrs. Leen


 My music career began with piano lessons at age 5. In fourth grade, I started playing the cello. By the time I reached sixth grade, I started helping the orchestra director with beginner students. I loved helping out the new students and I knew then that I wanted to become a music teacher. I started college as a music education major. In college, deciding how important music was to me, I had performance added to my major and subsequently administration ended up dropping the education portion of my major and leaving me with performance only. I felt as if fate was telling me to concentrate on the performance degree. Around this time, I started to hear and see educational music programs across the nation being disassembled due to political budget cuts which caused me to stick with fate and keep on with the performance degree. I did not want to deal with the politics of a school district and possibly having to fight for a job. Important life lessons have brought me to the realizations that uncertainty in economics and politics should not dissuade me from achieving my original plan to become a high school orchestra teacher. 

Shortly after obtaining my degree in performance, I moved to Los Angeles where I began performing and teaching piano, cello and violin privately. I loved what I was doing! I was teaching music. It is here that it became apparent that politics were everywhere, including the music industry and regardless of that fact, I wanted to teach music. 

Shortly after getting married, I relocated to Phoenix area. I was elated to find employment with the Apache Junction Unified School District. While teaching disabled children, we started incorporating music into the therapy. Some of these children cannot communicate through speech but their eyes would light up when they heard the piano being played and then we followed up with a call response activity as reinforcement. We were drawing these children into our world by using music. Teaching them through music was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I wanted to keep that amazing feeling and by finishing my formal education, I can. 

I started by taking courses at Rio Salado to receive my teaching certificate. Through one of my classes, there was a practicum requirement. I was lucky to do my practicum with the high school band director. Working with challenged elementary students has given me tremendous confidence in my teaching abilities but I needed to know, could I handle older students? After all, my dream job is to be a high school orchestra teacher and I remembered how it “was” when I was in high school. As expected, kids have not changed all that much and some of their attitudes were the same as some of us were at that age. For my tutoring part of the practicum, the teacher had me teach the class. He was the band director and knew very little about orchestra and he let me take full reign for a few weeks. It was great! I was successful in managing the classroom and the experience left me with the knowledge that I could in fact teach all levels and abilities in music. 

After working in the District for several years, I realize that we all become teachers for the children. We put up with the minimal wages for the betterment of the children. Seeing the kids smile and enjoying the music really made an impact on me and furthers my resolve that this is the right profession for me.