Students surround music teacher Sharon Evans (center). Evans is the recipient of the Peripole-Bergerault State General Music Educator Award, for her performance excellence in the classroom. From row from left is Jakob Gomez, Julius Butler, Conner MacGray. Middle Row: Carolena Adams, Tyler Vasse, Avery Smith, Bryn Desmarais and Bryant Kitisin. Courtesy photo

Teacher’s connection with music earns her award

CARSLBAD — Sharon Evans glances at her recent award and is filled with gratitude for the recognition while realizing how much joy music has brought to her life over the years. Evans has taught music for 20 years and has been at Hope Elementary School for the last eight of them.Her recent win from CMEA (California Association for Music Educators) for the Peripole-Bergerault State General Music Educator Award distinguishes Evans with her performance excellence in the classroom.A committee comprised of executive board members from CMEA selected Evans, and other winners, in various categories.

A year earlier, CMEA awarded Evans for her regional work as a general music educator. Her latest statewide win, however, brings this personal experience to a whole new level.

“Receiving the state award was just amazing to me, and when I think about how many music teachers are in the state, to be recognized for my work with the students was just amazing,” Evans said. “It really lifted up my spirits during a time when I was on a medical leave and in a pretty bad place.”

Evans returned back to teaching in February.

Last June, Evans was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following her lumpectomy, she required partial breast radiation and a very physically challenging course of chemotherapy. It was a time when life changed instantly for her.

The decision to take medical time off was fully supported by the school principal, she said. In fact, the outpouring of support she received was immeasurable.

It was her family, church family and school family that helped Evans move forward. “The words of encouragement, the cards, and all the meals that were brought over were tremendously uplifting during very difficult 4 1/2 months of pretty brutal treatment,” she said.

And during her cancer treatments, the CMEA letter arrived which truly raised her spirits and gave her something else to look forward to: A February banquet in Fresno, Calif. where she would receive her award.

Evans brought her family to the event and called it a wonderful experience.

In addition to being a music teacher, Evans is also the handbell director at Hope Elementary. The handbell group, she said, is one of the only public school groups in San Diego County.

Evans said even after all these years of teaching music her favorite part is when she sees the joy in a child’s face when they are making music.

“Music is essential for children, particularly in elementary years,” she said. “Children love music and there are all kinds of statistics to support that they do better in schoolwork when it’s a part of their lives. I definitely feel that children need to be exposed to the arts in general and music is a critical key component of that.”

Carlsbad Unified School District Superintendent John Roach described Evans as the leader among their music teachers, who facilitates their monthly collaboration meetings focusing on music.

“Sharon is instrumental in teaching beginning band to our elementary students which really helps strengthen the middle school instrumental programs, and thus, the high school band because of the excellent foundation that she provides,” Roach said. “She really is an advocate for music in our district and not at all afraid to remind me how important the arts are; Sharon is a lovely lady and we really appreciate the work she does for our kids.”

For Evans, her primary instrument is her voice. She plays piano and guitar to accompany it.

Evans said there is nothing that can move her to tears, make the hairs on her neck stand up, fill her with emotion, connect her with another, or flood her soul with joy and contentment like music can.

“I could never imagine a culture without music or a day when I couldn’t express myself with a song,” she said. “Music-making reflects our souls’ emotions; is the fuel of passion in a person’s journey on this earth and has the power to connect us with others anywhere in the world.”