Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2010 Alumni Classroom Fellow
Sharon and Plainfield, VT
Bio/Overview: Owens teaches P-6 general and instrumental music at Calais Elementary School in Calais, VT and at another small rural school in Sharon, VT 50 miles away. When Owens left undergraduate school with a degree in musicology, he vowed he would never set foot in a school again. Little did he know...Ten years later, he was on constant business trips out of state. In the evening and on weekends he was teaching private music lessons and performing as a classical flutist/composer. When his wife became pregnant with their second child, Owens realized that he was going to miss two children growing up. Looking to refocus on a single career, he obtained alternative licensure through Vermont's rigorous peer review program. During this time Owens worked as a paraprofessional and a substitute teacher. One day, he got a call alerting him that a part-time position had suddenly opened at Calais Elementary School. He rushed over, somehow talked his way into it, and has been there for 20 years.
Educational Values/Philosophy: In his classroom, Owens focuses on high quality general music curriculum and instruction because all students deserve an excellent arts education. During the last twelve years, the overarching theme of Owens’ career has been that by reaching out and helping other teachers, he can improve learning for thousands of students outside his own classroom. He values political empowerment of stakeholders and democratic engagement as means to achieve great public policy.
Achievements: Nationally Board Certified in Music/EMC, Owens has composed works for children's chorus, elementary band and orchestra, several of which are published by Shawnee Press. He worked for five years as a technology integration specialist at one of his schools, supporting teachers in using technology across the curriculum, in the process earning Vermont's new endorsement in this field.
Leadership Experience: Active in his VT-NEA local union affiliate as representative, negotiator and president for many years, Owens focused his year as a 2010 Classroom Fellow on comprehensive unionism, researching labor/management collaboration in the Plattsburg City School District at the 2011 Labor Management Conference in Denver and facilitating the Massachusetts team presentation at the 2012 conference in Cincinnati. During that year he was also elected to the VT-NEA Board of Directors and has twice been an elected delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly. In August 2011 he launched his own blog, Education Worker “bringing the teacher voice to unions and ed policy.” He is active with the Teacher Union Reform Network, and is the Vermont steering committee member for Northeast Regional TURN. Owens also contributes regularly on the Teacher Leader Network Forum of the Center for Teaching Quality. At the International Summer Course of the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria, Owens worked with music educators from all over the world. He is an American Orff Schulwerk Association approved recorder instructor, was president of the Northern Lights chapter and was recently elected to the national board of trustees of AOSA, the largest professional organization for general music teachers in the country. Owens teaches workshops and graduate music education courses and in 2010 directed an Orff Schulwerk teacher training course, the first time this training had been offered in Vermont since 1981.
Affiliations: Vermont NEA, Teacher Union Reform Network, Center for Teaching Quality, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, American Orff Schulwerk Association
Education: Owens earned an undergraduate degree in musicology from the Rochester Institute of Technology before enrolling in the masters in music education program at Central Connecticut State University in order to master the craft of elementary music teaching. He is Orff Schulwerk certified having completed level III training at the University of Kentucky.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Comprehensive unionism
- Labor management collaboration
- Music education
- Professional development
- Technology integration