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Principal gets music award

The Dalles Middle School Principal Sandra Harris, left, is pictured holding her Oregon Music Education Association Outstanding Administrator Award. With her is TDMS music teacher Leslie Sullivan, who nominated her for the award.

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The Dalles Middle School Principal Sandra Harris, left, is pictured holding her Oregon Music Education Association Outstanding Administrator Award. With her is TDMS music teacher Leslie Sullivan, who nominated her for the award.



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The Dalles Middle School Principal Sandy Harris, bottom right, is pictured with middle school music students. Harris received an award from the Oregon Music Education Association for her support of the music program at the middle school.

The Dalles Middle School Principal Sandy Harris never misses a music performance by students at the school, and is always ready with a compliment for their work.

For her ongoing support, she was awarded the Oregon Music Education Association Outstanding Administrator Award last month.

She was nominated by a number of people, including TDMS music teacher Leslie Sullivan, who said of Harris, “Sandra has been a cheerleader of our music program from day one. She comes into the classroom to listen to the students rehearse in band and choir just because she wants to, not just because she’s doing an observation of my teaching.”

She said Harris loves listening to students rehearse and perform, and “compliments the students, giving them great pride in what they do. I believe the students have elevated pride in their music because of the praise they receive from their principal. They look up to her and she goes out of her way to make sure they know they’ve done well.”

Sullivan said Harris is a volunteer ex-officio member for the Friends of D21 Music board, which fundraises to support not only the middle school, but the high school music program and three elementary music programs as well.

“She works hard, attends the meetings, and shows she truly cares for the entire music community in The Dalles,” Sullivan said.

The OMEA award is presented to those who not only support music education, but help them thrive during challenging economic times.

Harris said in an email that she was surprised and honored by the award. “I had no idea Leslie nominated me and then I found out that she conspired with Supt. Candy Armstrong, parents, colleagues, community members as well as the music director from my previous school in Redmond.”

She said, “I am just doing what I do, supporting students and programs in my school no matter what. I have always attended choir, band and theater events throughout my administrative career.”

She said she’s motivated by the kids. “They practice long hours every day to create compositions that sound amazing! A music program in a middle school is one of the backbones to student inclusion. I enjoy supporting programs that includes all students no matter the talent, economic status, GPA, popularity or age.”

She lauded the two “fantastic music professionals” she’s worked with, Sullivan in The Dalles and Larry Graves at Obsidian Middle School. “They each have created amazing programs and opportunities for students that was easy to support.”

Harris doesn’t come from a music background herself, but was able to spot its effects in her students when she taught math. “Musicians were some of my best students. However, they didn't get the notoriety that athletes got.

“I want our music kids to know they are just as important and fun to watch as a sporting event. I know how much they practice and I know they are dedicated to putting their best foot forward at their showcase events. They all deserve to be noticed!”

In giving Harris the award, the OMEA presenter stated, “She allows teachers to fulfill their vision and develops a sense of trust with her staff and they have the feeling of being rooted on by their principal.

“What makes this person exceptional is that she sincerely cares about music education. Her belief in the value of music and the richness it adds to students’ lives is sincere.

“She gets involved emotionally, not just professionally.”



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