Erick Willie, the first tubist to graduate from the University of the Virgin Islands with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, immediately put his degree to use upon graduating in 2014. He started to teach music at Arthur Richards Junior High School on St. Croix, and has been introducing youngsters to the joys of band, choral and Quellbe music for the last three and a half years.
Willie derives great satisfaction from working in the classroom, but knew that he wanted to be involved with shaping the direction of public education, particularly with regard to incorporating the arts into the core academic curriculum So he returned to UVI for a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. He will graduate on May 11, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.
“The biggest challenge for me was finding a balance between being a student again, and being a teacher,” said Willie. “But the program was exceptional, and I was able to do an internship with the administrators at my school, which enabled me to see what a principal really does. Based on that experience, I definitely want to pursue educational administration and leadership. There’s such a huge need for initiatives like band that will raise school pride, and get students to feel enthusiastic about learning.”
Willie himself was first exposed to music as a junior high school student who went on to become a valued member of the band at the St. Croix Educational Complex. He started out as a trumpet player, but when the band director said that tuba players were needed, Willie volunteered. He fell in love with the instrument. He had always dreamed of becoming a teacher, and was excited to learn that UVI would allow him to merge his two passions by training to become a music teacher.
“A lot of people have asked me why I didn’t go to study in the states,” said Willie. “I reply by asking them why I would want to study in the states when I can attend a school right here in the Virgin Islands that produces the best of the best.” Willie continued, “A lot of people overlook UVI, and that is a mistake. This university has helped me to develop as a musician and as an educator. Through both programs I’ve learned so many strategies that I’ve been able to implement in the classroom. And I had a great time doing it.”
|Erik Willie and Kevin Dixon|