As a result of her tremendous work within the community and the help she provides to other teachers, Fairmont Anaheim Hills music teacher Emma Joleen was recently awarded the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) “Outstanding Music Educator Award” for the Southwestern Section.
Joleen received the award at the 2018 California All-State Music Education Conference held February 15–18 at the San Jose Convention Center. She said that, while she was not expecting even to be nominated for such an honor, she was truly grateful.
“To be recognized and acknowledged by my colleagues and actually remembered for the things that I’ve done, that really touched my heart,” she said. “You just do what you do, and you don’t think about it, but it’s so sweet to know that people remember.”
Joleen originally had no clue she had received the nomination and learned of it through a coworker who offered her congratulations. Another coworker of hers then posted about it and tagged Joleen on Facebook so that others could vote for her to win the award.
“I thought ‘Oh my goodness! Who on earth nominated me?’” Joleen joked.
Joleen, who is from Australia, has been heavily involved in community initiatives — including various nonprofit organizations with the public school arts in Santa Monica and Los Angeles — to help young students not only develop appreciations for music but also realize the possibilities before them if they work toward their dreams. One experience even allowed her to take an honors choir on a field trip to sing with the Santa Monica Chorus and then enjoy a day at the beach. She loved being able to bring joy to the students on the trip, some of whom had never been to a beach.
“It was kind of like making their dreams come true, because they had never seen that in their lives before,” she said.
Joleen was the first individual in her family to attend college and receive a degree, and it is now her passion and desire to help as many students as possible — no matter what their social and economic statuses are — to thrive both in and out of the classroom.
“I want to give every single child I teach the opportunity to do whatever they can in life and to really dream big,” Joleen said. “I think that’s the most important thing — knowing, as a teacher, that you can make a difference and encouraging every single child through compassion, kindness, and empathy.”
It is that mindset and leading by example that make Joleen stand out to her peers. Her contagious joy and humble demeanor make it clear that her passion for teaching and inspiring her students is something that will always remain, whether she wins awards for it or not.
“I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing every single day, and I’m doing it for the pure grace and good of humanity,” she said, “no matter where I am in the world.”