Boulder Valley School District

Our People are Our Strength: Staff Profile Wanda Vasquez Garcia

Wanda Vasquez Garcia presents her book to Pioneer students
Maria Mondragon Silva

Español

Wanda Vasquez Garcia has been  a music teacher at Escuela Bilingüe Pioneer for the past five years, but her love for music began at a very young age. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, her father, a librarian for the National Symphony Orchestra in the Dominican Republic, played a crucial role in her musical upbringing, opening doors to opportunities that she might not have otherwise encountered. Bilingualism and her multicultural background serve her well in her role as the music teacher at a dual language school. Now, her mission is to extend those possibilities to her students, helping them grow and learn through music.

Notes of Success
When Vasquez Garcia turned eight, her father arranged for her to take piano lessons from a member of the National Symphony Orchestra. This experience ignited her passion for music, leading her to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in music education from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. Reflecting on the limited accessibility of music education in the Dominican Republic, she realized the importance of broadening access to opportunities for students. 

Upon relocating to the United States, Vasquez Garcia continued her academic journey, earning a masters degree in music education with an emphasis in choral music from the University of Northern Colorado.Today, she actively contributes to the musical community as a Connected Arts Network Music Teacher Leader and the Co-Coordinator of the Choral Database for the Institute for Composer Diversity. Additionally, her role as a Music Assistant for the Colorado Children’s Chorale enriches her teaching practice with invaluable insights and experiences, solidifying her commitment to nurturing musical excellence in her students. 

Outside of her day job in music, she is an active participant in the local music scene, performing in a teacher band called Foco Band and practicing her personal musical interests such as piano, singing, and playing the ukulele. 

Empowering Young Musicians
Driven by her connection with children, Vasquez Garcia found her calling in elementary education.

“I cherish working with young children for their pure voices,” she explains.

Vasquez Garcia’s approach to music education is dynamic and inclusive. Her curriculum encompasses diverse instruments, including the ukulele, xylophones, metallophones, recorders, and more.

“I believe it's crucial to provide students with an environment outside the traditional classroom where they can explore and learn in unique ways,” she explains. 

She enhances her music lessons by integrating books alongside traditional instruments. 

David Smith, Teacher Librarian at Escuela Bilingüe Pioneer shared, “I appreciate her frequent use of books to enrich her lessons, she adds fresh energy to music classes.”

She encourages exploration of various musical genres and creates opportunities for other interests, like digital music composition.

“My students exhibit a lot of unique and diverse musical interests, ranging from pop to Mexican norteño,“ she notes.

Recognizing the importance of inclusivity, Vasquez Garcia actively seeks ways to engage students who may initially be disinterested in music. By incorporating other interests, such as movement activities for those inclined towards physical education, she ensures that every student feels valued and included in her classroom. 

Singing Together
Vasquez Garcia recently launched a choir club at Escuela Bilingue Pioneer, where students get to participate in every aspect of the musical process. Whether that is setting up the stage, writing program notes, or selecting songs. 

Their first performance was a special moment, where students proudly showcased their hard work to their families. Vasquez Garcia emphasized the significance of the moment, highlighting the pride felt by both herself and the students. 

“It’s not my choir, it's OUR choir. Because they’re involved in every step of the process, they feel accountable and have a lot of ownership in what we do.”  

Vasquez Garcia views music as ephemeral, emphasizing how performances, unlike books or paintings, are temporary experiences. Despite their brevity, she believes these performances hold power because of the effort put into creating them. For her, performing is the final step in learning. 

“It’s not just about getting good grades; it’s about the whole experience,” she shared.

Music for Everyone
In her classroom, Vasquez Garcia cultivates a strong sense of belonging among her students,  especially crucial with the influx of new student arrivals to Pioneer, many of whom are experiencing the United States for the first time and speak little to no English. Ensuring they feel safe and understood, Vasquez Garcia emphasizes the importance of this safety net for their overall well-being. 

Former colleague Anna Villachica praised her ability to infuse joy into music education, drawing from her own cultural background in the Dominican Republic. 

“She's a firm believer in cultural representation and diversity in her music classroom,” said Villachica “Kids know her classroom is a place of acceptance and belonging.”

As Vasquez Garcia continues to inspire and empower her students, her ultimate goal remains clear: to instill in them the belief that with hard work and perseverance, they can achieve anything they set their minds to. For her, teaching music isn't just about notes and melodies—it's about nurturing dreams and fostering a lifelong love for music.
 

Read Wanda's children's book "From Across the Street"

photo of children's book cover "from across the street"

 Check out Wanda's children's book available to read and listen to online. The book is a family affair as it is co-   narrated with her daughter with music recorded and created by her husband. 


 

Recent Stories