Peter Markes, EPS Teacher of the Year!
August 30th, 2013
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, Japanese educator and founder of the Talent Education School, said: "Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart."
Edmond North orchestra teacher, Peter Markes doesn't just believe in what Suzuki said, he lives it. After being named the Edmond 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year, Markes has sat down on numerous occasions to discuss his success and his beliefs regarding his career. His interviews have been consistent and thought-provoking. When interviewed by the Edmond Sun, Markes said when his students graduate; they will become spouses, co-workers, civic and corporate leaders, teachers and most importantly, parents. To do these things well, they must be kind, loving, patient and gentle. "I believe one of my greatest contributions to my profession is drawing more students to this possibility through their opportunity in music," he said.
And this mindset, this philosophy, shows in everything Peter does. The Edmond North Orchestra has more than doubled since he took over ten years ago. He has been honored by numerous organizations, not just within the state of Oklahoma, but nationally and internationally. He missed accepting his Edmond teacher of the Year award because he was performing in Europe as part of the U.S. Department of State's American Voices' American Music Abroad program. But through it all, a five minute conversation will convince you that it is not about him, but about the students in his classroom.
When asked why he is still teaching after all the honors and awards, his answer was as impressive as his talents. "When I was asked this on the district teacher of the year form, I was at a loss for words" said Markes. "It was almost like, 'why do you love your wife?' If you know of one or two things, then you really don't love your wife. You love those one or two things. So I really had to think about that. And I have continued to think about that; a lot more actually. Part of it is the process and the product. You can say that those are married together, because every day there is a new product and every day there is a new process."
"It makes me so proud that every day these kids learn something new. It's not all about music. If they don't learn about responsibility and procedures, it makes their life harder and my life harder. And so I just love watching the special moments in the classroom every day. And I do mean every day. We have at least one special moment every single day." Markes concluded with pure joy and excitement in his voice.
Up next, Peter is a finalist for State Teacher of the Year. If he doesn't receive this honor, it won't faze him in the least. But any educator that is as passionate about teaching as he is truly deserves the award. And in thinking about it, should he win, what will happen next? More honors, more awards, and more opportunities outside of the Edmond School District? While everyone in Edmond is hoping Peter wins the state title, there is also that small fear tucked away inside of us all thinking that he might pursue other opportunities. That is the sign of a great teacher. Knowing that he is destined for greatness, and fearing that we will lose him.
Good luck Peter. You are an inspiration to every teacher and every student in Edmond. Your dedication and passion is exactly why the Edmond Public Schools Foundation exists; to support the hard work of teachers like you.