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Adams Elementary’s Brett Larsen Named 2017 Santa Barbara County Performing Arts Teacher of the Year

Brett Larsen Click to view larger
Brett Larsen (SBCEO photo)

Brett Larsen, a music teacher at Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara, has been named the 2017 Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County.

The award is the second of its kind and was created in a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and the Santa Barbara Bowl through the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Education Outreach program, which is dedicated to supporting performing arts in the community.

Larsen will succeed Sarah Barthel, drama director at Lompoc High School, as the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year next academic year.

“One of Santa Barbara Bowl’s Education Outreach priorities is ensuring access to the performing arts for all youth in Santa Barbara County,” says Graham Farrar, the Bowl’s Education Outreach committee chair and board secretary. “Without educators like Brett Larsen, it would be impossible to positively enhance the lives of students. Santa Barbara County and the Bowl thank Brett for his dedication within our schools. We are excited to support this award and teachers like Brett.”

Larsen’s students will provide entertainment as part of the fourth annual A Salute to Teachers, a gala event recognizing award-winning educators from Santa Barbara County, to be held at the historic Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara at 5 p.m. Nov. 5, 2016. 

The event partners SBCEO with Cox Communications and a variety of sponsors. Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for over 25 years in San Diego and is honored to continue this great tradition of teacher recognition for Santa Barbara County educators.

Larsen is highly respected and admired for his teaching and leadership not only at Adams Elementary School but also throughout the district. 

While at Adams, he has secured multiple grants to expand the music program that includes vocal music and Orff instruction for grades transitional kindergarten through sixth. All grade four students learn how to play the violin and grade five and six students receive instrumental music lessons.

Larsen makes a point of maintaining an “open door policy,” where he supports students with extra tutoring as needed both before school and during students’ lunch period.

After-school, Larsen volunteers teaching the all-school chorus program twice a week and the Adams Musical Theatre class, where the students most recently performed the children’s musical We Are Monsters.

Larsen spends the other two days a week serving as the co-leader to the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s elementary honor band, titled “Bravo.”

While at Bravo, Larsen supports instrumental music for grade five through six students. He also supports these students with performances throughout Santa Barbara, including the State Street Holiday Parade, Milpas Parade, HOPE Awards, ADL Awards and City Council.

“I am truly honored to have been selected as the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County,” Larsen said. “It is a privilege to work with the students at Adams every day. I love being part of a process that helps them realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined, both onstage and off.”

One of his recent success stories involves a fifth grade student in Adams’ Musical Theatre class.

“This student, who was two years below grade level in reading, became inspired by Brett to write her own play,” said Amy Alzina, Adams Elementary’s principal

Despite the fifth grader’s poor reading and writing skills, she wanted the school to hear her story. She worked diligently for weeks writing her own play, entitled “The Journey.”

Larsen worked in collaboration with the girl’s classroom teacher to see the play come to life before her peers. This experience instilled a renewed confidence within her as she began to see herself as an accomplished writer and reader.

“This student is no longer two years below grade level,” Alzina concludes with a smile, “but is now at grade level. It was Brett who ignited the fire within her and kept it burning.”

“Brett’s passion, energy and enthusiasm for the performing arts shine through and have inspired young students to develop an enduring appreciation for music and the arts,” said County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “We applaud the Santa Barbara Bowl’s vision in spotlighting the importance of the performing arts in a well rounded education by sponsoring, the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year and sincerely appreciate Cox Communications’ sponsorship of ‘A Salute to Teachers,’ where Brett’s excellent work with students will be showcased for educators and community partners from around the county.” 

“The Santa Barbara Bowl works hand in hand with many community organizations to help enrich the lives of everyone,” added Rick Boller, the Bowl Foundation’s executive director. “By leveraging the success of the Bowl’s Concert Seasons, we are able to help support programs like a Community Ticket Subsidy, Instrument Fund and the SBCEO’s Performing Arts Teacher of the Year Award. Congratulations to Brett Larsen on his success in the classroom and his impact on the world of performing arts… and we hope he has a good time at the concert he chooses to attend as part of his award.”

David J. Lawrence represents the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

 

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