If you see PreK Assistant Allie Arpajian driving around town, you’ll probably catch her singing loudly – most likely a show tune, she says. Allie, who graduated with a vocal music performance degree from the University of Delaware, is a classically trained opera singer.
“The view of music as a therapy and educational tool translates over well to my time with PreK,” she says. She also plays piano, percussion and guitar, and she serves as the ethnomusicologist for the Claudcleugh Multicultural Arts Center downtown. Professionally, Allie sings in the Bel Canto Choir and performs for non-profits and senior living homes that help people with Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
“My Nana had Alzheimer’s and my nephews have Autism so it is fulfilling for me to help others in their position. I love to show how music heals. I am constantly awed by the power of music and the ability for it to uplift not only our own energy, but also the energy of those around us.”
Allie has found music to be a great tool for creativity, expression, and language for her PreK students. “For example, right now we are focusing on rhyming words and guiding our students to hear the sounds, so simple songs like ‘Willabily, Wollibe, Woo’ not only encourage the use of creativity to create new silly words, but also aid the auditory ability to hear the rhyming sounds.”
Canterbury found Allie through its After School Fine Arts Program, where she teaches percussion and voice. She also served as the Afternoon Adventures Coordinator and taught as a substitute in the PreK classroom for the last month of school.
This is her first full year working with PreKindergarten students. “Working with (lead teacher) Jennifer Jones has been a blessing for me and she has both taught and guided me in the direction of great educational materials about the Reggio approach that we use in our PreK classrooms.”
Allie is also a certified yoga, spin, and kickboxing instructor as well as a personal trainer. “I teach at the Bryan YMCA as well as sub at the other Greensboro Y’s. You might catch me working out in Ketner when my PreK day is done and I am waiting to go to my next gig. I always have lots of little faces cheering me on as I lift during the afternoons!”
With her many talents, how does she feel about her new position at Canterbury? “I finally have a place where I can use all my odd jobs of years past into one mega job! It’s like I’ve hit the jackpot! I’ve been praying for two years since I graduated about what to do, and Canterbury has really been my blessing. Here I can work with kids, teach music, perform music, and use my fitness certificates all at once!”
Sleep keeps Allie happy and smiling through her many professional activities. “When you work 12-15 hour days, sleep is a beautiful thing,” she says.
And she really does smile throughout her day at Canterbury.
“I am excited to be working with PreK students and have the ability to watch them grow and learn each day. Already I can see a difference in their social development and how they interact with their fellow peers and teachers. Our Cougars are awesome and it’s going to be a great year!”
Be sure to catch Allie when she performs at Canterbury’s upcoming Community Dinner on October 16th.
More from Allie Arpajian…
Even though you are early in your professional career, you’ve accomplished a great deal and you’re involved in a quite a bit. Tell us more about your work with the Claudcleugh Multicultural Arts Center.
I focus on music as a healing tool and a creative outlet. Many of my students come from low-income homes and it’s safe to say that a fair amount of students have a lot of stuff going on in their lives that most of us will never battle nor see at age five or twelve. This past month I have been focusing on their African American heritage and we have been studying spirituals and jazz music. Many of them did not know one spiritual, which boggled my mind because this is their culture! I have them singing spirituals, then writing their own spiritual with the theme of a struggle in their life. It was amazing to see how the kids opened up through music. I have many pulling me aside after class and laying their life burdens on me, asking for advice.
If anything, this is the part about teaching I love the most, knowing that I can make an impact in a child’s live by simply listening and letting that student know they are loved because Lord knows we all just want to be heard and loved.
You’re about to get married! Tell us a little about your fiancé.
Clark’s my fiancé and I love him! He makes me happy and treats me like a princess. He literally gave me a princess key to our last apartment, but don’t worry I’m not spoiled, just love-spoiled. I think the best way to describe Clark is through his acts of love, like when I found out my father had cancer, he immediately drove across town and rubbed my back for an hour as I cried, or when one night I just wanted one chocolate chip cookie and he baked me a whole batch because we didn’t have any. Yeah, he’s a good guy.
How about other family members?
My mom is my best friend! She lives in Kernersville and works for Syngenta. She’s pretty cool and everyone says we look like sisters. We make up a lot of silly words and like to dance and sing around the house together. Clark can’t really handle us…
My dad lives in my hometown, New Hope, PA and is a lawyer in NYC. He works in the NBC building, which is pretty neat. I have yet to visit him there, but Clark and I are hoping to make a trip this winter to see the tree at Christmas time! Fun story – we’ve been taking piano lesson together since I was three all the way through high school with the same piano teacher for all those years.
Why do you appreciate the opportunity to support Canterbury’s mission?
I love Canterbury because everyone is free to be who they are! I especially love that although it is an episcopal school, our kids are still able to learn about the world’s religions and question what is really out there. The idea of using a holistic educational approach with our children is fabulous and I feel like our kids are getting a wonderfully well-rounded education!
“I love Canterbury because everyone is free to be who they are!”
by Andrea Crossley Spencer
Andrea Crossley Spencer is a Canterbury parent to McKenna (4th – Hoover), a freelance writer, and a creative writing instructor in Canterbury’s after school fine arts program. Her favorite Canterbury tradition is Chapel Buddies. She loves hiking, chocolate peanut butter shakes and listening to David Gray.