CAEE Recognizes APU Alum

by Mary Precht

Azusa Pacific University graduate student and undergraduate alum, Matt Murdock, received the 2005 California Association for Employment in Education (CAEE) Outstanding First Year Teacher Recognition Award for his first year at Gladstone High School. As an instrumental music teacher, Murdock displays extraordinary instructional skills and proficiency in interacting with students and their parents.

Murdock set a teaching goal for himself earlier this year to expose all of Gladstone’s musical ensembles to a combination of both classical and commercial music. They received first place at the West Hills Field Tournament, second place at the Los Altos Field Tournament, and a superior rating by the Wind Ensemble at the district music festival. The head judge at the festival commented that Gladstone High School performed the best it had in 30 years.

“Music students at Gladstone High School are performing with a level of confidence that truly is inspiring.” said Gladstone High School Principal Scott Magnusson. He attributes the students’ new found enthusiasm and all time high band enrollment to the passionate leadership Murdock provides them.

In addition to his time spent at Gladstone, Murdock teaches music to fourth and fifth grade students at several elementary schools in Azusa Unified School District. He has also established a partnership between Citrus College and Gladstone High School through which a dozen of his high school students receive private lessons from Citrus’ music faculty members. Murdock created this innovative opportunity to motivate students to pursue music upon entering college. He has also recruited some of his APU colleagues to lead sectionals for the high school band. Murdock sought to quickly establish a connection with the high school band boosters and was successful in gaining their full support. As a result, Murdock and the boosters held a highly successful fundraising barbeque to start the year.

He uses organized, creative, and powerful teaching techniques to accelerate the learning process, while correcting in a professional, respectful, and constructive manner. Murdock strives to connect with his students on their level. He enjoys playing his own trumpet alongside his students, both for their inspiration and for his own enjoyment. It is because of these instructional techniques and his development of Gladstone's music program that Murdock earned the 2005 Outstanding First Year Teacher Recognition Award. APU joins the CAEE in congratulating Murdock for his achievements this year.