President of Omaha Performing Arts Joan Squires, left, presents Linda Hulsey with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 6th annual NHSTA showcase.
Linda Hulsey has spent the last 12 years serving Omaha Public Schools as supervisor of music education, touching the lives of students and advocating for the future of arts education on a citywide level.
Through her involvement in our Nebraska High School Theater Academy, we have seen her role in developing educational programs in the arts and executing them in a way that prioritizes students. During the NHSTA Showcase last week, Hulsey was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to arts education.
“Teaching teachers to teach students with a strong methodology creates a passion in students that gives them the desire to stay in music and pursue the arts,” Hulsey said. “I want kids to live in music.”
In this Q&A, she shares her passion for the arts and the major highlights of her career.
Q: What are some of your crowning achievements as Supervisor of Music Education at OPS?
LH: I'm probably most proud of our curriculum, particularly the K-6 curriculum. It is sequential with concepts being taught through the singing game, a child developmentally-appropriate means of learning. The goal is for students to be able to read and write and understand music notation through the use of solfege and rhythm syllables. Each grade is assessed each quarter. This curriculum has been beneficial to our middle schools, and ultimately our high schools, as the foundation is set in place.
My second achievement that I am proud about is creating the middle school sight singing assessment for choirs. The assessment was modeled after the high school sight singing exams and has proven to be helpful with high school sight singing in choirs.
Q: Why are you passionate about music and performing arts? Tell us more about your experience in the field and what led you to your current position.
LH: I began taking piano lessons when I was in the fourth grade and I loved it. I remember thinking that I wanted all students to love music as I did. When I started college as a nontraditional student, I discovered that Zoltan Kodaly felt that music belonged to all and it was their right to have a strong music program. I was hooked on the Kodaly Method and became a teacher of Kodaly levels since 1999.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
LH: I really enjoy the most watching teachers teach and students learn. I love watching the curriculum in action with students. When office work gets to me, I drive to a school and watch kids learning and making music.
Q: Why is arts education important?
LH: The arts fill the soul - not money or wealth - the emptiness of the soul is a far greater problem than the absence of wealth.
Q: How have you seen arts impact the students you work with?
LH: In my job as an arts education administrator I really do not work with students. But I do work with teachers and even on a really hard day in a classroom, music still improves their spirits.
Q: What is your advice for other arts educators?
LH: Educators need to strive for strong arts programs in the curriculum, fight for it Be passionate about the arts. Give students opportunities after opportunities to have the most amazing art experiences. And never quit.
Q: What is one of your biggest takeaways from your career?
LH: I think my biggest takeaway is the goal that I had when becoming an arts administrator was that the way I could impact more kids in music was to train teachers to teach well and impact more kids. I feel fortunate that for 20 years in the classroom I had an impact on kids. And for the past 12 years, I've had an impact on many teachers who have given the love of music to many, many children.