AlumNow Spotlight: Maria Garcia

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The AlumNow series showcases former students’ post-graduation successes.

We recently caught up with Maria Garcia, the Orchestra & Mariachi Arts Academy director at W.E Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy. Read about her educational journey at Dallas ISD and how her teachers impacted her to give back to her community.

What high school did you graduate from and what year did you graduate?

Moisés E. Molina High School in 2001.

What is your current occupation?

I am the director for the Head Orchestra and Mariachi at Greiner Middle School Exploratory Arts Academy.

What made your Dallas ISD education unique?

I had dedicated teachers that had a commitment to their students’ success. I was involved in not only musical programs but was an avid athlete in many varsity programs in high school as well. As I was involved in many activities offered at my school, including being a class officer, this enabled me to grow and be inspired to do my best and work hard to graduate number four in my class.

What are your responsibilities as an Orchestra & Mariachi Arts Academy director?

I teach sixth, seventh, and eighth graders how to play an instrument and how to play in a mariachi and orchestra ensemble. I prepare my students for a musical career.

What are some career or personal highlights/accomplishments?

I founded the award-winning middle school mariachi in Dallas ISD, “Mariachi Los Unicos de Greiner.” At the time, it was the only middle school mariachi.

I also had the honor of performing for the former first lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton.

I traveled to Florida with the orchestra and mariachi programs, coming back with superior divisions and best in class. I also traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico with the mariachi group to the Mariachi Spectacular event and came back with first place in the showcase division. I performed with Grammy-winning Mexican singer and songwriter, Cristian Nodal and received the Music in the Schools Grammy Foundation grant. 

I performed for the Texas Music Educator AssociationConference as a selected showcase group. (The Texas Music Educators Association is an organization of over 12,000 Texas school music educators.)

I also received the sweepstakes division for 15 years consecutively at the UIL orchestra contest. I have a bachelor’s degree in Music with a teaching degree EC-12.

Who was your favorite Dallas ISD teacher or what was your favorite course?

One of my favorite Dallas ISD teachers was my Honors English teacher, Ms. Rangel at Moisés E. Molina High School. She had a passion for teaching, was creative and innovative, and had high expectations for her students. But at the same time had compassion and empathy for all. She pushed us to do our best and was one of my inspirations to becoming a compassionate and caring teacher.

What advice, if any, would you offer to students who are interested in your career field?

Being a musical director is a beautiful career. I would recommend being patient and adaptable. Teaching music requires patience and the ability to adapt to different learning styles and paces. Be prepared to modify your teaching strategies to meet the needs of individual students.

Your passion for music should inspire your students. Create an engaging and enjoyable learning environment that encourages students to explore and appreciate music. Finally, stay committed to a lifelong love of learning. The field of music education is always evolving. Stay curious and committed to continuing your education through workshops, conferences, and advanced degrees. Students can build a strong foundation for a successful career in music education, enriching the lives of their future students through the power of music.

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