Building a Culture of Music in Tolleson with Efrain Casillas, the 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year
Efrain Casillas, the 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year, has been teaching at Tolleson Elementary School District for 17 years. His vision isn’t to just teach music to his current students but to build a culture of music in Phoenix.
3Ps hosts Josh and Donnie talk with Efrain about the beginning of his interest in music as a child in Puerto Rico and how that led to his music education career.
Efrain shares how he works to engage his students’ interests and culture into his teaching. That’s led to his creating multiple new music groups, including mariachi, jazz, marching, concert, and Latin jazz bands, at Tolleson Elementary schools. He notes the amount of recognition the mariachi band has gone on to earn as well.
Having those bands compete in music contests and play publicly in the community has provided students with skills they wouldn’t learn only playing in school and also opened the door for more community engagement. Efrain has been able to fundraise and further expand music programming and engage more Tolleson students. He also mentions how he’s interested in beginning a community band for former students and others who would like to continue playing their instruments.
Learn more about Efrain Casillas and glimpse into his classroom at azedfoundation.org.
Learn more about the Arizona K12 Center at azk12.org.