Peter L. Markes, a string and Advanced Placement teacher from Edmond North High School, has been named the 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. His selection was announced on September 17 by state school Superintendent Janet Barresi during a ceremony at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City.
Markes will represent Oklahoma in the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) competition. The national winner will be announced in the spring of 2014.
An 8th–12th-grade string orchestra, and Advanced Placement music theory teacher, Markes has been teaching for 12 years, the past 11 at Edmond North.
Markes is a 16-year member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and the Oklahoma Music Educators Association (OKMEA). Healso has served as Oklahoma Music Educators Association (OKMEA) Honor Orchestra chair, and is conductor of the Oklahoma Youth Philharmonic, and Oklahoma Youth Orchestra Chamber Ensemble in Oklahoma City.
In discussing his own views of music education, Markes turned to a quote from Shinichi Suzuki, who invented the international Suzuki method of music education and developed a unique edducation philosophy. for educating people of all ages and abilities
“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
Markes says: “I hope our many colleagues can understand that at the end of the day, the year, or the four or more years that many of us work with the same youth, the most important thing is the strong relationships that we develop with our students.”
“We are not training them to become great musicians. That is simply the vehicle that we are so blessed with that allows us to teach sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. We are making great citizens: teachers, civic leaders, spouses, and most importantly, parents,” he adds.
The Role Professional Associations Play
Markes says he learns as well through his state association, OKMEA.“I became involved with OKMEA because I believe it is important to remain professionally active, to seek professional development. If nothing else, the great political power that our affiliated organizations hold is worth paying the dues,” he said of the state association and NAfME.
Additionally, he said “OKMEA organizes and runs our All-State Honor Orchestra, and membership is part of entering our students. I have twice been the chair person for the All-State Honor Orchestra, in 2006 and 2010 (co-chair with Kristin Geist), Markes says.
“The experience is much like any other in music education: be organized and be patient; the former begets the latter,” Markes adds.
He also believes “The greatest part each time was spending time with the conductor/clinician. In both cases (Gary Lewis and Anthony Maeillo), I experienced some of the greatest professional development ever in my career. These are true masters, but more importantly, some of the kindest, most gentle men I have met. Their approach to teaching was so encouraging, and the results from the students were amazing.
“I also conduct the Oklahoma Youth Philharmonic, the preparation group for our flagship Oklahoma Youth Orchestra. Each Monday night, I am often exhausted, not overly excited about rehearsal, and when I start rehearsing with those young people and seeing just how meaningful and exciting it is for them to make music with a full orchestra, it is so energizing. Like a fly-wheel, it propels me through the week!”
NAfME and OKMEA member, Eddie Lou Strimple, a choral teacher from Enid, was also a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and is the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The NTOY is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing major national education organizations. Each April, the NTOY is introduced to the American people by the President of the United States.
Each state announces its winner individually, and Markes is the first music educator to be selected as a 2014 NTOY candidate.
Additional information on Markes
Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, September 19, 2013. © National Association for Music Education