Elizabeth Moldovan’s students may have challenges that others don’t.
But, just like other kids, the students at Ruby Van Meter School in Des Moines, which serves individuals with disabilities, need to learn about music, Moldovan says. And she’s there to teach them.
“I believe they deserve the best music education I can give them,” she says.
It was during a college internship at a case management office when she learned more about individuals with special needs. There, she read a lot of medical documentation about people’s lives and instances of where they were neglected or not valued, she says.
That experience stayed with her. When Moldovan applied for a job as a music teacher at Ruby Van Meter, she was able to observe the students. It all clicked for her then, she says. Here, she could pursue her lifelong passion for music and also help others.
“Combining the music and special needs was kind of a cool way to start out my career,” says Moldovan, who is going into her third year at the school.
Her goal is “to provide a music curriculum that is aligned to what other general educators are doing, but is accessible to our kids.” A range of tools and approaches place music education within their reach. For example, there’s adaptable equipment, including various sizes of instruments.
Encouraging a love of music and the fine arts is also important to Moldovan, who constantly tries to expose students to new things. She reasons that you never know where individuals may find their passion.
Students benefit physically, emotionally and socially from music. For example, it allows students to be a part of, and work as a group. So, even though they may have different capabilities, Moldovan says, they’re all able to play the drums together, by providing more assistance to those who need it.
Every demographic has its challenges. Moldovan says her group happens to have some that are more unique compared to other students, as are their set of accomplishments. In her line of work, every achievement is worthy of recognition.
Whether it’s someone writing his or her name or reading a word, she says: “You don’t forget to celebrate the really small things.”