Beth Poquette Drews teaches Modern Band and Mariachi at L.V. Stockard Middle School and has been with Dallas ISD for her entire teaching career of 19 years.
Poquette Drews did not always teach Mariachi, but about 10 years ago some of her students approached her about forming a Mariachi ensemble as a way to learn music from their culture. Prior to this, only traditional band and orchestra were offered at Stockard Middle School, but with the support of the school principal and a grant from the House of Blues Foundation, the school’s Mariachi program was created just a few weeks later.
“In both the Mariachi and Modern Band classes, we study the contributions of Latin musicians. But also I make space in my lessons for my students to compose music, to ensure that their voices are heard and so they see themselves as someone to be celebrated,” Poquett Drews said.
Beauty, equity, and unity motivate Poquette Drews to be the best teacher she can be for her students.
“Teaching Mariachi has connected me with my students and our community,” said Poquette Drews. “ I want to teach Mariachi with authenticity. To do this, I have listened and learned from the Mexican-American community. I am grateful to all the people who have shared with me, supported me, and embraced me. As a result, I think that I am not only a better teacher but a better global citizen.”
Not only does Mariachi connect her with her students, it is also a passion she shares with her husband, Chris Drews, who teaches Mariachi at Stemmons Elementary school. They have collaborated on several student performances, including the annual Stockard Mariachi Fiesta and the Stemmons Elementary Cinco de Mayo program
“We play music together often,” said Poquette Drews. “ It is not uncommon to play guitar together on the weekend or to sing around the house, sometimes Mariachi songs. Though music is what brought us together, it is being together that strengthens our music and our teaching. I am his biggest fan and he is mine.”
Poquette Drews has been recognized for her hard work in the classroom through numerous awards and honors. She received the 2020 Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize in Career Achievement for her advocacy and contribution to culturally relevant music education through Mariachi and Modern Band. She was also named a Region 10 Secondary Teacher of the Year 2019 and Dallas ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year 2017-2018.
“I teach music to help children find beauty in the world around them and within themselves,” Poquette Drews said.
Catch up on our previous Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles