Kale Barnes was named the Appalachian State University Student Teacher of the Year for the 2022-2023 academic year in a video message. Barnes, originally from Thornton, Colorado, completed their Bachelor of Music in Music Education in December 2022.
For Barnes, receiving this recognition means a lot to them for many reasons. “First and foremost, winning this award is not a win for me, but a win for my students. My students deserve nothing but the best and I am so glad I was able to provide them with a fulfilling music education.”
“Along with a win for my students, winning this award is a win for the LGBTQ+ community,” they noted. “I feel so proud to be a transgender and non-binary teacher achieving this award. This achievement has shown me that there is no specific look or gender that can be a great teacher.”
“Lastly, but most importantly, this accomplishment is the product of all of my music teachers before me and their dedication to my education in music,” they added. “I can only hope to inspire the next generation of musicians the way my former teachers did.”
Dr. John Ross, associate professor in the Hayes School of Music and Director of Bands, had the opportunity to teach Barnes, as well as observe them student teaching at Cuthbertson Middle School in Waxhaw, North Carolina.
“Kale's fearlessness, musicality, love for people, and love for making music was an immediate and continuing inspiration for the students in the bands and music theory class.”
“Kale student taught with Mrs. Katie Ebert, along with Mr. Todd Ebert, and very quickly became a valued and essential member of the Cuthbertson Team,” noted Ross. “Kale's fearlessness, musicality, love for people, and love for making music was an immediate and continuing inspiration for the students in the bands and music theory class.”
“Making each student feel like they were heard, important, and loved is Kale's greatest legacy at Cuthbertson,” he added.
They originally began their degree at the University of Colorado but decided to move across the country and transfer to App State after a meeting with the music faculty. “With a fantastic education program and a large school of music, I was convinced this was the school for me.”
“With a fantastic education program and a large school of music, I was convinced [App State] was the school for me.”
Barnes chose the path of music education after completing an internship with their middle school band director during their senior year of high school. “I had originally applied to colleges with the intent of pursuing engineering, but quickly switched to music education after falling in love with my internship.”
Even though Barnes experienced difficulties through multiple illnesses during the student teaching semester, they were still able to keep up with assignments and daily teaching tasks.
Barnes was able to secure a mid-year position teaching middle school orchestra and high school piano at Cochrane Collegiate Academy. They also teach high school orchestra and choir at Garinger High School in Charlotte. Additionally, they are a member of the Charlotte Pride Band performing on Euphonium.
Barnes will represent Appalachian State University at the state level for the Student Teacher of the Year, which is offered by the North Carolina Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (NC-ACTE). The NC-ACTE winner will be announced at the organization’s annual fall meeting, September 27 - 29, 2023. This is the eighth year in a row that NC-ACTE will recognize an elite group of student teachers from each of its member institutions.
Students are nominated by their clinical educators, University Field Supervisors, and faculty members based on their teaching, professionalism, and overall effectiveness in the classroom. Nominated students then submit a reflective narrative on their student teaching experience and three letters of recommendation. Finalists for each semester (fall and spring) are selected to compete for the top award.
“I am so proud of all of our students,” said Dr. Alisha Ellis, Reich College of Education’s Director of Clinical Education. “They are transitioning from a student of teaching to a teacher of students.”
“I look forward to seeing all of their great accomplishments as educators,” she added.
Eleven student teachers have been named finalists for Appalachian State University’s Student Teacher of the Year Award. They are Kale Barnes, Erin Barnette, Kimmie Colyer, Alana Hamby, Kalina Hanowski, Isabel Kaczmarek, Maya Kapoor, Margaret Pendergrass, Madelyn Robertson, Josephene Sanders, and Sarah Schriefer. Read about each of the finalists.