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“Your education is what you make it . . . be proactive–this is YOUR future, no one else's!”
Kristina Powell, one of the five 2017 Harford County Teacher of the Year finalists, is a graduate of Harford Community College. She teaches vocal/general music to Kindergarten through 5th graders, as well as co-teaches 4th and 5th grade chorus, at Bel Air Elementary School.
She recommends HCC as a great place to begin higher education for several reasons. “Saving money is a big part of it, but you're not sacrificing quality for the sake of being economical. I received an excellent education that prepared me more than adequately for a four-year college, and I was never a number to my professors. Also, the professors at Harford are active members of the community, which makes them better able to help by utilizing their connections and knowledge of the area.”
When she started at Harford, Kristina was undecided as to which area of music to pursue but was leaning toward music therapy. Her Introduction to Education course instructor knew this and arranged a field placement at the John Archer School with Laurie Neeper, a former Maryland Teacher of the Year. “Through that experience, and through the guidance of my Educational Psychology professor the next semester at Harford (who organized a 125-hour practicum at Archer for me), I discovered that teaching music was my passion and that I wanted to teach in the public schools.”
She has been teaching at Bel Air Elementary School for 14 years. “I love helping students connect music to what they're learning in other subjects such as math, social studies, science, art, physical education and media. I especially love helping them see the role music has played in history to highlight what was happening in the world and to express the thoughts and feelings of the people of a particular time period. Music tells our history!”
Kristina earned an Associate of Arts degree in Music from Harford Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Music with Teacher Certification from Salisbury University, and a Master of Science in Music Education with DOK Certification from Towson University.
Kristina said she was surprised at how well-prepared she was when she transferred to a four-year institution. “After I graduated from Harford and enrolled at Salisbury to earn my bachelor's degree, I realized that I was actually more prepared than my peers who had attended the same four-year institution since they were freshman. For instance, Harford required four semesters of music theory to graduate with an associate degree. The other juniors at Salisbury only took one semester of theory per year, which meant that as a junior, they only had taken two semesters of theory, while I had taken all four. The junior year is often when a music student takes upper-level music classes, such as Form and Analysis, Music History and Conducting. I found that I was better prepared than my classmates and struggled less to understand the concepts of these more advanced classes because of my four semesters of theory required by Harford.”
Kristina always worked hard in school and it paid off. In high school, she received the Judith Resnik Award for excellence in math and science as well as a scholarship from the State of Maryland for her PSAT scores. At HCC, Kristina was a recipient of the Alfred C. O’Connell Scholarship for music students.
She offers this advice to anyone just starting college: “Your education is what you make it. No one's requiring you to be here; you're here because you want a better future for yourself. The effort you put in is what you're going to get out of it. Don't be satisfied with just meeting minimum requirements. And be proactive. Ask questions–this is YOUR future, no one else's!”
Kristina believes in giving back and is active in the community. She is on the board of Band Together, a nonprofit organization founded by Harford County music teachers to provide instruments free of charge to Harford County students in need. In addition, she co-leads the Silent Witness Mime Troupe, based out of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, where she teaches the art of French-style mime to members, 10-years-old through adult. She also choreographs pieces, organizes performances, and handles much of the administration of the troupe. Each summer, she teaches at CYMA (Children and Youth in Ministry through the Arts), a week-long arts ministry camp for 80 students from various churches. She has taught mime, Irish dance and sewing, as well as worked with the youth leadership.
“I was happy with my experience at Harford. I felt that I received an excellent education while saving money on tuition as well as room and board. The class sizes were small and my professors knew me by name and cared personally about my future.”
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