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Laura VanderWoude (CU’ 2018), has recently won the Elementary Educator award for 2024 from the Missouri American String Teachers Association. Laura graduated from Calvary University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education: Instrumental, with an emphasis in violin. She received her Master of Music Education in 2022 from Kansas State University.  

Laura grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has been involved in orchestra and playing violin since she was seven years old. She chose Calvary as her university so that she could get a biblical education and an accredited degree in music education.  

“Calvary was a great fit for me because I was able to get involved in a community where I grew spiritually and academically.”

From a professional standpoint, Laura’s experiences at Calvary inspired her to connect with more musicians, take up opportunities to get hands-on experience in student teaching, and ultimately become a trained, confident educator.   

Laura’s award was given to her by the Missouri chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association. As a six-year member of this professional organization, she often volunteers and is the head chaperone of the all-state orchestra students at their state conference every year.

The Elementary Education Award is usually given to someone who teaches beginner student-musicians. Laura teaches in Independence, Missouri, where she has two hundred students that she teaches every day. She said it has been a privilege to focus on beginners and first year instrument players. When reflecting on how she felt about receiving her award, she said:  

“I was not quite sure how to feel at first because there are so many other amazing string educators that also deserve this award. I am humbled, but also feel honored that people see the hard work I do in my area of expertise. Truly, all the glory goes to the Lord. He has strengthened me and taught me personally about His compassion and patience, and He has shown me how much my students are made in His image.” 

Laura is ultimately grateful to have a positive impact on her students’ lives. She feels privileged to help them excel in their musicianship and develop skills they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.