Teaching in the Southern California public school system for over 30 years, Susan Craig has seen many children's lives changed through the gift of music. Passionate about the necessity of arts education in elementary schools, she also has a deep love of church music and for ministering to her students through music. She is currently the instructor for the Elementary Music Workshop for junior and senior education majors. Her students describe her as someone that displays a consistent love for them that transcends their time in the classroom. Alumna Amanda Hall ('12) says that she would not have finished her journey through the music education program without the guidance of Mrs. Craig. "She constantly encouraged and challenged me as a music educator, helping me to analyze experiences in the classroom and truly realize the love I have for teaching students of all ages and backgrounds. Mrs. Craig went above and beyond as a professor, driving many miles and giving up much of her own spare time to help me grow as a teacher. Not only has she given me helpful tips and advice about teaching, but she has been the best example for me by constantly showing me love and care as a teacher herself, even after graduation and student teaching have past. Because of Mrs. Craig, I have been able to grow in the Lord's plan for my life, which includes teaching music to students of all ages, but also caring for others in a selfless love that reaches far beyond the classroom."
Education & Influences
She began her musical studies by learning the piano at age 7. As a teenager, she began singing with the junior high church choir at her church, Lakewood First Presbyterian Church (now Grace First Presbyterian Church), and later became the choir's accompanist. When she was 18 years old, she was asked to start a children's choir, and was mentored by the church choir director. When she was studying for her undergraduate degree, she found a lifelong mentor and friend in Frank Pooler, the director of choral studies at California State University, Long Beach. She recalls, "He was so passionate about music and he helped me understand the history of the music of the church. Mr. Pooler, who just recently passed away, was a life-long friend who continued to teach and encourage me as I grew as a teacher." Another of her mentors includes Martha Alves, one of the music administrators at the Garden Grove Unified School District. Mrs. Craig appreciated the freedom that Ms. Alves gave to the teachers under her supervision to teach excellently but in their own unique ways, and was also encouraged by Ms. Alves to pursue her Master's Degree.
Teachers include Frank Pooler.
Until retirement, Mrs. Craig was extremely active throughout Southern California as a music specialist and district facilitator. Teaching vocal music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, she was also very active in Orange County and California State music education workshops and activities. She was responsible for starting a music program in the Cypress School District in 1968; she coordinated the program, established a curriculum and schedule, and served as a vocal and instrumental music instructor. Since then, she has been active as both a teacher and as an administrator for musical programs.
Since 1985, Mrs. Craig has been training new music educators at the collegiate level. Besides her work at Biola, she was also a teacher at California State University Fullerton from 1985 to 2002.
Outside the classroom, Mrs. Craig has been an advocate of the arts in Southern California. For many years, she worked with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, an organization whose mission is to facilitate concerts and to promote musical education in Orange County area. Throughout the course of her involvement, she led two of their programs: Concerts on Campus and Music Workshop for Primary Teachers. Mrs. Craig has also been a member of the California Music Educators Association and presented at their conventions. Previously, she also participated in other associations including SCMEA (Southern California Music Educator's Association), where she served as secretary for several years, and OCMEA (Orange County Music Educators Association), where she was vice president for a year. She also served on the committee that hosted the National Organization—Music Educators National Conference in 1973.
For several years, Mrs. Craig was a member of the Orange County Music and Arts Administrators. In 1987, She was awarded the Irene Schoeffle Award as Music Educator of the Year, an award conferred upon one music educator in Orange County who is chosen by his or her peers as an outstanding teacher. Her commitment to teaching stems from her passionate belief that music is a necessary part of a child's education. She say, "Music crosses the curriculum and can be used to help teach EVERY part of the elementary curriculum. Music is a great equalizer. Music is the universal language. Music brings different cultures together. Music helps us understand children (people) from different cultures. Music gives us many educational skills that will help children throughout their time in school."
Apart from her teaching roles, Ms. Craig is very active in the music program at Grace First Presbyterian Church. She also sang with the William Lock Singers for 12 years, and the Musica Sacra Singers for 5 years until their final concert, both of which groups were founded by Biola vocal professor William Lock.
Mrs. Craig continues to use her talents through directing a ministry she started at her church called the Care Choir. This group of volunteers sings traditional hymns and praise songs at the homes of the physically ill, rehabilitation centers, and care facilities, among other places. She and the group enjoy using music as a means of reaching their community.
Faith in Action
For Mrs. Craig, music is a special tool that God uses to speak to us. "Music is God's voice. All during my life, this wonderful gift which God has given to all of us has spoken to me." She has seen God work providentially in her students' lives as they have enjoyed the gift of music. One such example was a young deaf boy named Eric who could hear many high-frequency songs and who loved music. "I was struck by the fact that this young child learned many things through music. He could sing songs that would help him remember facts about many things. It seemed like God gave Eric the love of music to keep him going when much of the time, there were no sounds for Eric—his world was mostly silent." Though Eric eventually lost the remainder of his hearing in the 6th grade, he never lost his love for the gift God had given him for the first 12-13 years of his life.
Since 2003, Mrs. Craig has been training the next generation of music educators, and is grateful for the freedom that she has to share how God can be present in the classroom. "The faculty and staff at Biola is like a wonderful Christian family…I am free to express my faith in the classroom and I am able to teach my students how they can share the history of Christian music with their students." Teaching methods of music education to both music education majors and education majors from other departments, her desire is that her students would realize the worth of music in the lives of children. "I hope they will understand the importance of teaching music in their classroom and how they can 'fit' music into their teaching every day. God did not create music by accident. Music is worth teaching."