Two music education buffs—Amy Woodley (BME ’01) and Aubrey Yeh (BME ’10)—stayed local after graduating from the College of Music, bringing both passion and leadership to Jeffco Public Schools and the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD).
“I came to CU Boulder knowing that I wanted to teach,” says Yeh, who—in her role as coordinator of language arts and humanities—oversees art, music, theatre and dance for BVSD K-12 students. “Because the College of Music is right in the middle of a community that really values music and all the arts, I fell in love with teaching music, specifically.
“The college’s high-quality teaching program—including professors with connections to the teaching community—inspired me to stay here.”
Continues Yeh, “In some music education programs, you don’t get into the classroom until your junior or senior years. I really appreciated the College of Music’s approach to get into music classrooms right away. I remember a lot of practicums, which really made a difference in my choosing this career.”
Woodley, Jeffco’s K-12 music and theatre curriculum coordinator, agrees. “The music faculty is second to none,” she says. “And I’m really grateful for the many opportunities at the College of Music—and CU Boulder, in general—to take on leadership positions. It prepared me for a life of teaching.”
Indeed, beyond her education at CU Boulder, Woodley went on to earn a master’s degree in teaching and learning at Regis University, emphasizing curriculum design. Today, she applies her strengths in leadership, collaboration, creative problem solving and communications to enhance the work of Jeffco’s Educational Research and Design group.
“I oversee curriculum revisions and professional development for music teachers,” she says. “I lead advisory committees made up of teachers throughout the district, advocate for funding and improvements to our programs, and seek out partnership opportunities with the community to help teachers deliver the best instruction they can to our students.”
Additionally, Woodley serves on the committee that oversees Jeffco’s Strategic Plan for the Arts, a support strategy to strengthen the role of arts education in our schools. Among her achievements to build out the Jeffco music and performing arts curriculum, lead student achievement and extend arts offerings in the district, Woodley has worked to design and realign Jeffco’s instrumental music curriculum to meet state standards and curriculum innovations.
“It’s all about creating pathways for arts teachers to develop professionally and for students to have access to be in the band or orchestra, regardless of financial status,” she says. “With an eye on socioeconomic equity, we aim to prepare kids to go beyond K-12 music and perhaps pursue music education careers themselves.” To that end, she wrote and received grants from Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, Colorado Public Radio and Keep the Music Alive, thereby increasing the number of school instruments and the size and impact of the Jeffco music program.
In 2013, Woodley received the Lion Award for Advocacy from the Colorado Educators Association for her efforts to promote music education in her community and prevent devastating cuts to the Jeffco music program. She’s also a deserving recipient of the J. Lee Burke Achievement Award—Kappa Kappa Psi’s highest national achievement award—for her efforts to honor the lives lost at Columbine High School. As head of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi’s Columbine Commissioning Project (2000-2001), she helped commission world-renowned composer Frank Ticheli to write “An American Elegy” and launched a nationwide fundraising campaign to support the cost of the commission and its premiere; the performance served as the centerpiece of a special commemorative one-year anniversary concert given by the Columbine High School Band in conjunction with the CU Boulder Wind Symphony at Macky Auditorium.
Yeh, too, complemented her College of Music degree with a master’s in educational leadership at the University of Northern Colorado and a Principal’s License through the Colorado Department of Education. Leading up to her current role, she served as an education technology specialist, focusing on supporting teachers and engaging the community in several technology projects.
“I started out as a music teacher for first- through 12th-graders, emphasizing student leadership and relationship building through technology integration,” she says. In fact, Yeh is a Google-Certified Trainer and Innovator, as well as a Breakout EDU Authorized Trainer and game designer.
She adds, “Through music and technology integration, it’s really cool to provide kids with opportunities to shine and grow—especially kids who might not be doing as well in other academic areas.”
Going the extra mile, Yeh further advocates for students who have come to the United States as refugees. “Refugee Ready helps educators understand the challenges that refugee and migrant children and their families experience in our schools,” she says. “We provide resources and strategies to better serve and teach them.”
Both Yeh and Woodley credit the College of Music for preparing them to think outside the box. “My advice to music education students is to fully take advantage of the range of opportunities that CU offers,” says Woodley. “Get into as many different types of classrooms as you can and be involved in every aspect of your education. Building connections and your own knowledge base are key.”
Concludes Yeh, “Positions in this field are constantly changing, so don’t fall in love with what you think your job will be. Instead, be a generalist and stay open and flexible to incredible opportunities as they come up.”