Teacher of the Year 2006: Karen Garrett

garrettheadKaren Garrett was selected by TI:ME as the 2006 TI:ME Teacher of the Year. In addtion to her classroom achievements, her website,, is an example of an extraordinary effort by an educator who utilizes technology to its fullest extent. This site is an extension of Karen’s music technology classroom at Central Park School in Birmingham, AL. She has been teaching Instrumental Music at Central Park since 1992. Over the years, this website has been a place that many music educators have visited and have come away with great strategies for their own work. Karen was honored at the TI:ME National Conference in Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday, January 4 preceding the TI:ME Keynote address. Congratulations, Karen. TOY2006award

Ms. Garrett, TI:ME Teacher of the Year for 2006, has been teaching Instrumental Music (Band) at Central Park School since 1992. She also directs the 3rd – 5th Grade students in the Music Technology Lab, established in 1997. Ms. Garrett started the Music Technology web site devoted specifically to the students and their work because it is such a popular class at the school.

The students are learning how to play the electronic keyboard and learning to read, write, compose, print and publish music using a computer.Students are chosen by their 3rd Grade Teachers to take the class. The number of students in Music Technology each year ranges from 110-140+ students per year. Each student receives one session (40 minutes) per week in the Lab. Students having access to keyboards, computers, and the Internet at home can access additional lessons and activities to enhance their music learning.

The students use Music Ace and Sibelius Software to assist in their music instruction. Some of the students’ compositions are Sibelius Music Scorch files posted on the web site. Students also use various software programs such as Teach Me Piano, Discovering Keyboards and Musicus, along with taking music quizzes on the web site.

Karen’s equipment is a combination of older computers and MIDI keyboards, along with music software. Most of it was purchased or obtained through donations.

Since 1992, Ms. Garrett has also taught at other Birmingham City Schools including Baker, Elyton, Price and Brown Elementary Schools and A.G. Gaston Middle School. She has taught numerous music technology in-services beginning in 1994 to general music teachers and band directors, as well as beginning digital photography / imaging / computer graphics in-services to general education elementary teachers.

She has attended many in-services related to music technology, including the combined state and national TI:ME Conferences with the MENC in Nashville, TN, Pasadena, CA, San Antonio, TX and Tampa, FL. She has also attended the Technological Directions in Music Learning (TDML) Conference in San Antonio, TX, the National Symposium for Music Instructional Technology (NSMIT) Conferences in Auburn, AL and presented a music technology session at the Alabama Music Educators Association (AMEA) Conference. Ms. Garrett completed requirements for TI:ME 1A Certification in 2006.

The website domain purchase, creation, development, pictures, work and maintenance are a free service provided by Ms. Garrett to the students and faculty at Central Park, the music teachers in Birmingham and other schools, and as a resource to the Internet community. Ms. Garrett is a member of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, the Music Educators’ National Conference, the Alabama Bandmasters Association and the Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI).

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