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Amy Villanova
After dedicating 21 years to music education, Amy Villanova will be awarded the state’s highest academic award of excellence. Courtesy photo
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Canyon Crest’s Amy Villanova earns state’s top music educator award

ENCINITAS — Amy Villanova, music educator at Canyon Crest Academy, will receive the 2020 Byron Hoyt/Don Schmeer Band Educator Award, California’s top honor for excellence in instrumental education.

She’s the first educator in the San Dieguito Union High District to receive the California Music Educators Association’s award, and third in San Diego County, since the award’s inception in 2000.

The past year was a challenging one for educators. The vast majority of students in the district have participated in distance learning instead of on-campus education since last spring.

Villanova said band practices have been conducted online through video conference calls, which is easier said than done.

“It’s a really different experience online, but the kids are really resilient and creative,” she said. “The kids have really risen to the challenge. We are just looking at music differently right now.”

Villanova has always looked at music differently. Her mother taught English and Spanish, her father a well-known composer. She grew up around her mother’s classroom and steeped in her father’s music. She believes music is an integral part of a child’s education.

“It’s a form of communication, collaboration and expression,” Villanova said. “One of those things where the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. It’s something to help communicate sometimes when language doesn’t. When we are all speaking in this new language, we all understand.”

Villanova was selected over all other music educators in the state: public and private schools, colleges and universities. CCA Principal Brett Killeen said the award could not have gone to a better teacher or better person.

Villanova has been a music teacher for 21 years, 16 of which have been at Canyon Crest. When the school opened in 2004, it heavily focused on the arts, Killeen said, and Villanova has been there since the beginning.

“She cares so beyond the music program; she cares about the whole school,” Killeen said. “Just an incredible ambassador not just for CCA, but for our district.”