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Adelaide teacher winner of inaugural Aria Music Teacher of the Year Award

Renée McCarthy, a music teacher from Woodcroft College in Morphett Vale, South Australia, has won the inaugural ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award run in partnership with The Song Room and sponsored by Telstra.

The award was based on the public vote and announced at the 2017 ARIA Award ceremony held in Sydney on 28 November 2017.

McCarthy runs one of the most successful music programs in a school in Australia. “I encourage students to find their passion for music. Whether it’s pursuing a music career or finding enjoyment in performing. The music experiences they share at Woodcroft will last a lifetime,” McCarthy says.

She credits her programs at Woodcroft with encouraging students to find their passion for music, whether it’s pursuing a music career or finding enjoyment in performing.

Students at the school have used their music classes to build their confidence and improve self-esteem. Music has been the catalyst for some students to move past physical and mental health issues and find something they can achieve or a productive way to express themselves.

It’s for this reason that ARIA (the Australian Recording Industry Association), non-profit music and arts education organisation The Song Room, and Telstra partnered to present the first-ever ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award at the 2017 ARIA Awards.

This new ARIA Award has been introduced to celebrate Australia’s music teachers for their passion and hard work in educating children to play and love music.

The benefits of music education have been consistently proven by decades of research, and they are experienced every day by Australian teachers and students who actively engage and participate in music making. Research into The Song Room’s programs in particular, proves that children involved in music at school achieve better grades, attend school more often, improve their self-esteem and confidence, and experience less stress, depression, loneliness and anger.

“Music keeps students involved in positive activities, establishes connections with others and develops confidence.” McCarthy says. “Performing within the community (local nursing homes and the Adelaide Town Hall) has raised the profile of the College and our program. The buzz about music at Woodcroft is a talking point around the community.”

The success of the music program at Woodcroft College has even seen international touring become a regular feature for students. Since 2012 McCarthy has planned and led 37 students on biennial music tours to America, performing across New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, running fundraising drives to subsidise the cost for students.

When accepting the ARIA award at a pre-presentation event, McCarthy shared the following:

“Six beautiful Music Captains at Woodcroft College, Kitchy, Cammy, Nikki, Lucinda, Mon and Jake, nominated me for this award. I had no idea that The Song Room and ARIA had collaborated to recognise the value of music education and here I am, a music teacher, at the ARIAs!

“I’m so thankful to The Song Room and ARIA for valuing music teachers including finalists Julie, Alex and Stephen, and to The Song Room for their incredible work to give all students, especially disadvantaged children, access to music education. Thank you Telstra for your sponsorship and Josh Pyke for an exciting day with our band.

“I am privileged to work with special students and staff. My family and the Woodcroft Music Family have been incredibly supportive and I consider myself so lucky to share the musical journeys with my students and to have a career that I love.

“Thank you Woodcroft College and Mark Porter for allowing me to become the teacher I am today. And to the Music Captains and students, I have always believed in you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me.”

During the nationwide telecast on Channel Nine, Josh Pyke and Jessica Mauboy announced Renée McCarthy as the inaugural winner.

Mark Porter, Headmaster of Woodcroft College, commented after hearing of the win, “Renée McCarthy is an exceptional teacher. The whole Woodcroft community celebrates this fantastic achievement with her.”

Source/Image supplied by: Woodcroft College

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