As part of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) program at Crosby Middle School, Lydia Cox takes a unique approach to teaching music. “The entire STEAM program focuses on innovation and individualized learning,” she said. “Students in my digital music class experience trial, error and reflection through daily exploration of the elements of music using technology. They apply STEAM knowledge and processes through creating podcasts, composing music, and recording and manipulating sounds.”
Beyond her work with the STEAM team, Cox creates a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming. According to one of her "40 Under 40" nomination letters, a colleague wrote, “Ms. Cox instills confidence in each of her students. Many come to her without having any prior knowledge regarding signing or music in general. She is creative in her approach to the curriculum and relating it to our students’ lives. Students have an immense appreciation for her as a teacher, and trust her. They truly know she cares about them as singers and, more importantly, as people.”
Cox finds way to embed music into the everyday operations of the school. For example, she invites school staff to attend informal concerts during choir class where students perform some of their favorite warm-ups and excerpts from the pieces they have been rehearsing. “We have even been known to pile into our principal’s office to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her,” Cox said.
Her music program also participates in elementary school performance tours and an annual Veteran’s Day program. “I believe that every student in the classroom should be given opportunities to build relationships within their ensemble, create memories and share their growth. And involving our entire school community is a great way to do that,” she said.
“Singing is such a vulnerable act because it requires students to share a part of themselves, and it is so meaningful when students with different backgrounds, learning styles and values can work together toward a common goal through performance,” she said.