Norm Sands (’85 B.S. Music Education) was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award – Elementary” at the annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards held in Austin, Texas on May 3, 2015. The award includes a $25,000 cash prize and a matching $25,000 grant for his school, Tabasco Elementary School in La Joya, Texas.
Originally from Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, Norm began his teaching career as an elementary music specialist in Bellefonte. He has been living and teaching in Texas since 1995. He received his master’s degree in Technology Leadership from Lamar University in 2010. He is the author of several publications, including compilations of original music written for recorder. Most recently, he authored articles in Recorder Classroom and Music K-8 concerning the use of interactive whiteboards in the elementary music classroom.
When interviewed for the H-E-B website regarding the lifetime achievement award, Norm said, “people sometimes ask me, 'what are you doing in elementary school?’ It's because these kids matter. They need to have the best foundation they can get before they leave this school.” He went on to discuss the role of arts in education. "Academics are paramount in school, but I also think it is important to be a human being. If they do not have a deeper knowledge of any of the arts, I feel like they are missing half of their identity."
Although now a music teacher looking back at an accomplished 30-year career, Norm still credits his undergraduate alma mater with providing the basis for his achievements. “There is no question I owe a great deal of my success as a music educator and composer to the firm music education foundation I received during my years of study at the Penn State School of Music.”