Laura Smith Schiavo is a violinist who whole-heartedly believes in the power of arts education, and is in her twelfth year of teaching in the San Diego Unified School District. She currently teaches orchestra at Creative Performing Media Arts Magnet Middle School in a booming arts program in the heart of the Clairemont community of San Diego. Throughout her career, Laura has taught orchestra at both the elementary and middle school levels. Laura has a BA in Music from Point Loma Nazarene University with a concentration in Music Education, and an MA in Educational Leadership and Administration from Brandman University. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in both Music and Foundational Level Mathematics, as well as an Administrative Credential. In 2012, Laura received the Schuchman Award for Excellence in Music Education from SDUSD and also received the CMEA Elementary Music Specialist Award. She has been a teacher leader in music education with the California Arts Project since 2013, continuously working with other arts educators across the state. Laura has also mentored new teachers in her district for the past seven years, and has been part of her district’s mentoring program for new educators working on clearing their credential and improving and reflecting upon their own teaching practice. She has presented at many local conferences, as well as CASMEC. Laura loves advocating for music education and loves working with the changing landscape and curriculums in music education. In 2017, Laura traveled to Washington D.C. to be on a team of teachers working with NAfME and the Library of Congress, and she became a Teaching with Primary Sources Curriculum Writer, and her curriculum can now be found on the NAfME website. She was a member of the 2018 California Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Standards Advisory Committee as the standards were revised, and are now the adopted California Arts Standards. Laura has served on the executive board of CMEA-SBS for the past eleven years in various roles, including Treasurer, Vice President of Strings, President, and is now their current Past President.
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term as a CMEA Executive Board member?
During my term as a CMEA Executive Board Member, I see the greatest challenge that music education will face is the implementation of our new California Arts Standards and what that now looks like in music classrooms across our state. Teachers will be learning how to unpack the standards and designing new student driven curriculum. We will need to create new professional development, and continue to examine and learn about this philosophical shift in education and what that means for our own students every day. We will need to work on continuing to provide a rigorous, sequential music education for every student in California so they leave their PK-12 education as a musically literate individual, prepared to engage in music and arts for life.
What do you see as the major challenges facing CMEA?
CMEA will be continuing to face the challenges within legislation, and working toward advocacy for music education for all California students by credentialed music educators. I believe these challenges will always be ongoing, such what it currently going on with AB 1505, which doesn’t require charter schools to hire credentialed music teachers to teach music. Students need highly qualified credentialed music teachers in their classrooms, who have the backgrounds and tools necessary to deliver a world class education. The advocacy piece of CMEA is such critical and vital work to ensure future generations of music educators and students have the support and resources for success.
How should CMEA respond to these challenges?
CMEA will continue responding to these challenges with the mindfulness the Executive Board always has, and putting students at the center of everything they do. CMEA always communicates with transparency and honesty to our constituents so that all may be informed. All challenges require thoughtfulness and wisdom, which is one of the collective great things about this board. No two challenges we face are exactly alike, but many past experiences with similarities help us guide our future. When I was section President, I learned a great deal from all the other Presidents and our Board at our state meetings. Many struggles they had mirrored our own in the Southern Boarder Section, and we could help each other strategize to come up with the best solution. One of the greatest strengths of CMEA is the network of educators our organization has created, where literally you can create friendships with teachers from all over the state to collaborate with and share ideas about teaching.