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Audra and Chris Loftin own Sweet Grown Alabama Farms in Tanner. Audra Loftin is “Teacher of the Year” at Columbia Elementary School. CONTRIBUTED

As ‘Teacher of the Year,’ Audra Loftin lets students know music is their own

MADISON – Currently, Audra Loftin serves as music teacher for grades K-5 at Columbia and Madison elementary schools. Loftin is “Teacher of the Year” for Columbia this year.

However, Loftin also is familiar with students at Mill Creek, Heritage, Rainbow and West Madison elementary schools, along with the pre-kindergarten center, where she has taught music over the past nine years.

“I began teaching in North Carolina in 1999. This past year was my 22nd year in education,” Loftin said. “Previously, I taught in Candor and Archdale, N.C. before moving to Madison in 2012.”

As a music teacher, Loftin organizes, teaches, directs and is accompanist for Madison City Schools Fifth-Grade Honor Chorus each year. She teaches and directs music presentations for PTA meetings.

“Teaching music is a blessing. All in all, my students love the subject,” Loftin said. “They’re excited entering the music room. They’re eager to discover what we will learn for the day and are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about getting their hands on fun classroom instruments.”

Seeing students only once each week, Loftin makes their musical experience the week’s highlight. For about 40 high-energy minutes, her classes read musical notation, sing, dance, listen to musicians’ work and play instruments. She rarely sees behavior issues.

She wants students to feel safe in experimenting with music, performing for an audience, moving to music and “knowing that music belongs to them, because music belongs to all of humanity — regardless of ability level.”

With COVID protocols, she taught music from a cart, traveling room to room. At first disappointed, Loftin adjusted with creative ways to tap rhythms on desk shields or using instrument baggies. “I’m proud of the way our school adapted and carried on high quality educational standards within the parameters and unknowns,” she said.

“Composer of the Week” was a major success for grades 4-5 this year. “Students submitted rhythm sets to me. The ‘winner’ of a weekly drawing had their work posted on the board. Rhythms were studied and performed by all classes. Everyone was excited to discover whose photo and rhythm would (posted),” Loftin said.

Majoring in music education, Loftin earned a bachelor’s degree at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. and a master’s degree at Boston University. Her hometown, Seagrove, N.C., is famous for wheel-thrown pottery.

Her husband is Chris Loftin, MSG U.S. Army Special Forces (retired). The Loftins own the sustainable Sweet Grown Alabama Farms in Tanner with pasture-raised eggs, chickens, lamb, beef and honey.

Fluent in French, she worked as a French linguist for Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. during 2007-2012. “It was an amazing experience to see such elite military training firsthand,” Audra said.

“When I leave school, I change into muck boots and farm clothes to work on our farm, or I play with my two Great Pyrenees dogs. For fun, I love to cook; baking sourdough bread (is) my hobby,” Audra said.

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