The Arrow

The Student News Site of Westlake High School

The Arrow

The Arrow

Liz Blake awarded CVUSD Teacher of the Month

Conejo Valley Unified School District
Liz Blake is presented with the Teacher of the Month Award.

Orchestra teacher Liz Blake was selected as CVUSD’s Teacher of the Month for January out of over 500 teachers in the district. The award honors teachers, instructors and district employees for their true dedication to their students and their job. Teachers received nominations from students, fellow teachers and district employees.

Blake works at both WHS and Los Cerritos Middle School, providing instruction to many levels of students. Despite the vast range of skill levels, the thing that brings her gratification is all the same: her love for music.

“[I love seeing] my students start to love a piece as much as I do,” said Blake. “I love seeing the light bulb form: ‘I know how to do this now!’”

Blake wasn’t always on the path to become a teacher, despite her success in teaching her students.

“My degree is in violin performance, [not teaching]” said Blake. “My first 10 years out of college were full–time performance. … If somebody had told me this is what I would be doing, I would have laughed.”

In the music field, being a teacher instead of being a performer has many stigmas, many of which Blake set out to challenge and redefine.

“[The stigma] was something I ran up against when I started teaching,” said Blake. “I had full–time freelance friends tell me ‘don’t tell anybody you’re teaching.’ For a long time, if somebody called me for a freelance job, I would tell them I was booked that day—not that I had school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

As she worked with her orchestras and started to develop a love for her work, she re–evaluated the way she perceived her job.

“I started thinking about it, [and asked] ‘am I proud of what I’m doing?’” said Blake. “Yes, I am proud of the program that we built. So, instead of telling [my friends] what I taught, I started inviting them to coach!”

Though teaching music is highly glamorized, Blake emphasizes achieving success in a music program is no easy feat. 

“We have a gift In the fact that we have a supportive district, supportive administration, and [we live in] a fairly well off area [with money]” said Blake. “But how are you going to teach kids to perform at a standard that does justice to the music if you can’t do it?”

Playing and dedicating oneself to music expends much energy, and Blake believes this can make it unsustainable at times.

 “Self care is not something that most musicians are good at,” said Blake. “My original career was practice until you drop. You’re never done.”

Blake feels rejuvenated and maintains a desire to continue teaching after seeing the hard work of her students. 

“Students face stress all the time,” said Blake. “You’re always doing one more AP project or one more of this, a recital or a competition. There’s always something. But you all still show up to orchestra.”

Despite the constant demands of her job, she continues to inspire her students with the gift of music.

“If you love music, it’s not possible to do less,” said Blake. “If you really love it, it’s a disservice to the music itself to do less.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Arrow

Your donation will support the student journalists of Westlake High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
James Miller
James Miller, Copy editor, Opinion Section editor
he/him My name is James Miller, and I'm this year's Co-Business Manager. This is my first year on the arrow. Some interests I have are music, dogs, debate, writing, math, video games and subject verb agreement.
Donate to The Arrow

Comments (0)

All The Arrow Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *