La Quinta High music teacher honored for educational excellence

La Quinta High School teacher Darlene Machacon’s efforts to create music-making opportunities while meeting students’ needs have earned her recognition from the Country Music Association Foundation and its annual Music Teachers of Excellence award.

The CMA Foundation chooses to honor 30 music teachers nationwide each year for their ability to positively impact their students and for utilizing “the power of music as an avenue for change.”

CMAF 2022 Music Teachers of Excellence

Machacon is the only teacher to represent the state of California among the 2022 honorees. She is currently in her first year of teaching at La Quinta High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District, where she serves as a piano, choral and Advanced Placement music theory instructor. Machacon taught general elementary music at John Murdy Elementary School when the CMA Foundation made its announcement in May.

“This award is meaningful to me because I think of little Darlene who almost never saw herself represented in music education,” Machacon said. “As a second generation Filipina-American, it was rare to see another Asian woman teaching music. My hope is that this award is an inspiration to other young Asian-American girls to prove that they too can make a difference with teaching music.”

Machacon has spent over a decade creating and instructing elementary general music curriculum, accompanying ensembles, directing choirs and teaching piano lessons to students of all ages. Her mission is to provide relevant music education that helps meet students’ social-emotional needs. Her extensive knowledge has allowed her to help train other music educators throughout the US.

For the past six years, she has served as a music teacher throughout Garden Grove Unified, from Northcutt, Ethan Allen and John Murdy elementary schools to Bolsa Grande High School.

“We are extremely grateful for Darlene and the expertise and enthusiasm she brings to the classroom,” said Adrian Lucero, La Quinta High School principal. “She is well deserving of this prestigious recognition for all that she invests into her profession and, more importantly, into the lives of her students.”

La Quinta High School Music Teacher Darlene Machacon
(Courtesy of La Quinta High School)

The CMA Foundation will invest $150,000 to support the award-winning teachers’ classrooms, music programs and professional development opportunities to help them foster thriving music programs for their students and communities. 

The non-profit organization has partnered with school districts since 2011 to support students’ needs and to help educators overcome their challenges, contributing $700,000 to date.

Machacon said the best part of her role as a music educator is creating bonds with her students through each lesson and performance opportunity.

“We are incredibly proud to support these 30 amazing music teachers through this program,” CMA Foundation Executive Director Tiffany Kerns said. “Music education is essential to the well-being of students everywhere. We believe that without excellent teachers, a high-quality education for our students wouldn’t be possible.” 

All 30 music educators will be celebrated at the sixth annual Music Teachers of Excellence awards night on Oct. 19 in Nashville, Tennessee.