Dr. Erin Zaffini has been teaching music education for six years at Keene State College. She is the recent winner of the 2017 Keene State College Excellence in Teaching Award. This award honors KSC faculty members who have shown outstanding qualities as educators. According to KSC’s website, the award is based on excellence in teaching and effective student advising for full-time faculty who have been teaching at KSC for at least three years.
Zaffini said she was “thrilled” to hear she had won the award. “The best part about it was reading the students’ comments and their feedback and their support for me to earn the award,” Zaffini said. “That made me very gracious; I’m just filled with gratitude for what they do for me and my profession, and just giving me a renewed sense of purpose for why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
KSC senior Micayla Mahoney is currently working as a student teacher alongside Zaffini and had her as a professor in the past. “Dr. Zaffini always makes her students dig deeper into topics and makes sure students really understand. She was extremely deserving of this award due to the fact that she inspires students to learn and want to teach,” Mahoney said.
Zaffini also teaches music at the K-8 public schools. Chair of the Music Department Heather Gilligan said. “She’s an instructor who is able to bring her daily practice into the classroom. She’s a great role model for the students because not only is she teaching them her best practices for music education, but she’s also providing an example through her teaching experience.”
KSC senior Amy Buonpane said Zaffini’s teaching ability has helped prepare her for the real world. “I constantly find myself relating what I have learned in Dr. Zaffini’s classes back to my professional career, whether that’s in other classes I’ve taken, practicum placements, professional development classes, or in my current student placement classes,” Buonpane said.
Buonpane also works with Zaffini through the National Association for Music Education ( NAfME). Zaffini is the collegiate coordinator for the state of New Hampshire. “In her position as collegiate coordinator, I am able to watch her thrive as she works to bring together collegiates from all over the state of New Hampshire in order to ensure that the future of music education is in good hands. It’s inspiring watching her,” Buonpane said .
Zaffini said of her students, “I absolutely love the students. I love their personalities. I love their growth. I love seeing them excel. I love helping them through challenges. They really just make my career so worthwhile. It’s definitely, by far, the best part of my job.”
Gilligan said, “Her student evaluations are pretty clear in that she has a great balance of rigor and support in her classrooms. They all talk about her giving constructive feedback and helping students improve in their teaching skills.” Gilligan also said that Dr. Zaffini is teaching an ISP class that is three and one-half hours long but, “her students said she just has so much energy it makes those three and a half hours go by quickly. She’s very well-loved by her students.
The reason Zaffini chose to teach music in her career is because, “I’ve always loved music…I felt that I had found a home myself through music.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org