Hopatcong Teacher Wins Mike Kovins TI:ME Teacher of the Year

By Steve Sears

For Shawna Longo, General Music (Music Technology) teacher at Hopatcong Middle School, every day she enters the doors to the job she loves is a pretty good day.

“Yes,” she confirms, “100%.”

Longo, who won the 2016 Governor’s Educator of the Year for Hopatcong Middle School and in 2018 was awarded the Master Music Teacher Award by the New Jersey Music Educators Association, was recently named Mike Kovins TI:ME (Technology in Music Education) Teacher of the Year.

Longo, who is married with a 7-year-old son and places family first in her life with her students as a close second, will be recognized as the 15th recipient of the award at the TI:ME 2019 National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, on February 13.

“It is a huge honor,” says Longo, “When I got the phone call that I received the award, honestly – it talks a lot for me to not know what to say – I was without words for a moment. I knew the list of people  who had received this award before me; they were my inspiration. When I was diving into integrating technology into my music classes, they were the people whose books I read, they’re published auto-hors, people who have been doing this for decades and decades, and I would send the questions and reach out to them, because I’m not afraid to ask for help. I love to learn, I love to try new things. It’s not always going to go perfect, and it’s being okay with that, and I think its important teaching the kids that.”

Longo, who is a resident of Morris Plains where she serves as Vice-President of the Morris Plains Board of Education,  is certified to teach students in grade K – 12, but for the past 9 years has taught Middle School only, applies often the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and  mathematics) method to her teaching. “It’s making connections for kids,” she attests, “because too often schools are focused on testing and high stakes testing, and we all get why they are I existence. But kids become robots to what right or wrong, is it A, B, C or D, is it true of false, versus there may not be a right answer, take the information you’ve been given and what are you going to make of it? What are you going to create utilizing this skill, this knowledge, or how can we make their learning come alive in other content areas and make it real to them?”

What of music itself? Longo feels music is very personal and emotional. “I can hear a song on the radio and it can take me back to an exact moment and it can be 20 years ago, but I will remember exactly where I was, how I felt, and what was going on in that moment because its ingrained in my brain and it’s that emotional connection to that song that takes you there.”

Her accolades being what they are and significant, her heart is with her students. “I do this for the kids,” she states. “But I will say being recognized by your peers for the work you’re doing and what your providing for the kids, is nice every so often. But absolutely, the kids are the forefront. They’re everything I do and why I do it and how I do it. It’s really why I went into education. I’ve always been passionate about music and performing arts, and I wanted to be able to pass that on,” says the 18-year educator.

Visit Shawna Longo’s website at www.creativeEDUconsulting.com.

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