Diane Clarke: Music is about Building Lives

Year: 2021 — Province: Nova Scotia
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Musquodoboit Rural Secondary School
Grades 6 to 12 - music
Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia


“Ms. Clarke’s philosophy of education is grounded in a pedagogy of accessibility, differential approaches and a quest for excellence. She teaches all who come to her class, and with a sensitive and thoughtful hand guides them to achieve their very best. Diane is a community organizer. Her commitment to the arts community of Musquodoboit is intense and without peer.”


Teaching Approach

Diane has a philosophical approach to pedagogy that reflects her intent to create life-long learners. She emphasises self-assessment. Students are taught to use technology to develop skills that allow them to assess their own performance. This approach allows Diane to be a coach, providing multiple opportunities for feedback and improvement before a formal assessment is provided by the teacher.

In the Classroom

Diane believes in the collaborative dimension of music. She provides multiple opportunities for students from higher grades to serve as music mentors to students in lower grades. Her premise is that building a community of mentorship helps solidify participation and develop the collaborative skills that are essential in society.

In selecting repertoire, Diane is very mindful of facilitating a balance between challenge and capability, allowing musical growth and skills development for her students. This is a constant challenge, as she conducts ensembles that serve students from several grades at a time. Much of her time is spent on careful consideration of the music she chooses to teach and share with her students.

Outstanding Achievements

In her 26 years of teaching in the Musquodoboit Valley, Diane has been one of the main artistic sparks of the community. Her work goes way beyond the classroom. She conducts an extracurricular concert band and a show choir. She produces and directs their bi-annual Broadway style musical. She also travels a circuit of 100 km to three elementary schools to teach grade six instrumental bands. Organizing performances, trips to music festivals, inviting guest performers and travelling abroad with her students, Diane creates an inviting and powerful ethos that reflects the importance of the arts in her community.

Diane does not emphasise competition as part of her program. However, her ensembles regularly receive gold standards in local music festivals, which is one way that she builds a culture of achievement in her students. Diane sees music festivals as an opportunity for students to see and learn from other students performing.

Diane is dedicated to inspiring global citizens and is a practitioner of the philosophies of culturally responsive pedagogy. She provides opportunity for students to focus on the founding cultures of Nova Scotia. She regularly invites culture bearers from the local Acadien and Mi’kmaw communities to work with students and discuss their respective cultures. Her teaching is heavily influenced by inclusion and social justice objectives, and her classroom is a place where discussion and debate are fostered. This mindset has had a powerful impact on her school community.

Get in touch!

Musquodoboit Rural Secondary School
11980 Highway 224
Middle Musquodoboit, NS  B0N 1X0
Email: mrhs@hrce.ca
Twitter: @MRHSMustangs