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Wednesday, October 11, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teacher of the Year uses music to inspire children in all areas

Times Snohomish County Bureau

Whether it's setting the Lewis and Clark expedition to music or helping students write a play about the U.S. Constitution, Granite Falls teacher Andrea Peterson uses music to enhance students' learning and creativity.

The 33-year-old music specialist at Monte Cristo Elementary was named Washington 2007 Teacher of the Year in a ceremony at the Museum of Flight on Tuesday.

When her name was called from among eight finalists, she said, "I was beyond surprised. These are amazing teachers, and I'm being recognized among them."

Peterson was the first music teacher in the state to earn her National Board Certification in 2002. She now mentors other teachers seeking their national credentials.

"I love watching her teach," said Joel Thaut, superintendent of the Granite Falls School District. "She's as good as any I've seen in my life."

Peterson works with other teachers to incorporate academic subjects into her music curriculum. Students research a work of literature they're reading in English, or a topic in social studies such as Lewis and Clark. Peterson helps them pick out appropriate songs and music. Sometimes she writes original songs.

"She absolutely inspires the students," said Lynne Bansemer, whose eighth-grade daughter still returns to the school to accompany the younger students. "They want to give the best of themselves because she gives so much of herself. "

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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