2012 Verde Pride Awards: Julie Smith: Educator of the Year
Julie Smith has been a member of the Cottonwood community and music teacher at Dr. Daniel Bright School for 25 years. She is this year’s winner of the Verde Valley Pride Awards 2012 as Educator of the Year. She was nominated by her principal at DDB, Nancy Erickson.
“It’s quite an honor,” Julie said. “There are so many wonderful teachers in our Valley, I’m humbled by it.”
Music has been an important part of Julie’s life since childhood. “I grew up with music around me,” she said. “My whole family was musical. We all sang together.”
Erickson said that Julie has a passion for music and teaching that resonates with her students.
“While at DDB, she has taught kindergarten through fifth grade and was also instrumental in starting the band and chorus programs that are now so prevalent throughout the Cottonwood Oak Creek School District,” Erickson said.
Currently, Julie teaches kindergarten through second grade for DDB and also is music teacher for Mountain View Preparatory, grades kindergarten through sixth.
“Each year she presents musical performances in which every child at DDB participates,” Erickson said. She explained that those performances are always done twice. The first performance is during the day for the students, and the second is at night for families and friends.
In addition to being the music teacher at DDB, Julie has been very involved in music throughout the community of Cottonwood.
“She is a member of the Cottonwood Community Band, since its inception in 1990,” Erickson said. “For the last three years (she) has been the conductor of the band, a position that is still a volunteer position.”
Julie also sings with the Verde Valley Voices, and she has been a member for 12 years. She is music director and organist for the Faith Lutheran Church, a position she has served in for 20 years.
Besides participating in a lead role for these musical groups, Julie has composed original music for them.
In September 2011, Julie was chosen as one of the 250 musicians to represent her college alumni by participating in the Concert of Commemoration at Lincoln Center in New York City. That program was commissioned to commemorate the victims of 9-11.
Julie is married to Paul Smith, and she has two daughters, Andrea, 24, and Ashley, 20.