Teacher Spotlight - Lenin Ovalles
Lenin Ovalles is a music teacher at P.S. 068 and P.S. 583 in the Bronx. He grew up in Washington Heights, first experiencing music at a young age through his local church. He wasn’t exposed to music in elementary school, but in middle school his teacher started him on the trombone and he quickly fell in love. He went to LaGuardia High School for instrumental performance and in his senior year decided to pursue voice in addition to instrumental music. From there he attended Adelphi University with a B.S. in Music Education and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Music Education at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Postdam.
Lenin joined ETM as a music teacher in August of 2018 and immediately became an active, engaged member of ETM’s music teacher community. Since joining ETM, Lenin has received monthly coaching visits from his Instructional Supervisor and is quickly growing into a skilled and highly effective teacher. He is also a frequent ETM Professional Development attendee and is currently participating in a monthly Conducting Masterclass Series provided by ETM this year.
Lenin shared, “From a very young age I knew that I wanted to have music and life-long learning at the very center of my life: I love being a student. Toni Morrison often tells her writing students ‘If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.’ Once music became like a power to me, I started to see music education as my way of empowering communities when I was made conscious of the lack of equity within our urban public schools.”
The power of music has translated to Lenin’s teaching career as he strives to make a positive impact on his students’ lives. “My first job is not to teach music but rather to make sure kids grow in the direction where music can come out of them naturally,” he stated. “When I see students leaning on other students for help, or when I find a student who has learned what they need in order to succeed, that’s when I know I’ve made an impact. Being a partner of Education Through Music means being a partner of an organization that wants to make urban schools into a fertile ground for music education. By teaching my administration about having a music program, and giving me a supervisor, in addition to equipping my school with the materials that I need to teach, ETM sets everything up so that I can teach at my school through to my retirement.”