Rosanne Malek discovered her life’s passion in seventh grade when she was waiting for an after-school ride from her brother, whose high school choir was rehearsing.
“The sounds were so beautiful and I thought, ‘who wouldn’t want to be around this their whole life?’” she said.
And that put Malek, who is the arts consultant for the Iowa Department of Education, on track for her career – a career that has taken her before large audiences and small classrooms.
Malek was recently honored with the regional Outstanding Music Educator Award through the National Federation of State High School Associations. She was nominated by the Iowa High School Music Association’s executive committee. The association’s executive director, Alan Greiner, said Malek has now been entered into next year’s national contest.
In the nomination, Greiner called Malek “one of Iowa’s finest gems” in the music world.
“Through her leadership, music is now recognized as a ‘core’ academic subject in our schools,” he wrote. “She has worked tirelessly over the past five years to collaboratively guide, develop and align units that will now be used as models for implementing Iowa’s Universal Skills and Constructs into our music classrooms.”
Malek’s career choice, in retrospect, seems almost preordained. She grew up in northern Iowa’s Britt among a multigenerational musical family. Years later, as an accomplished performer in both piano and voice, her professors at Peabody Conservatory urged her to pursue a career on stage. But she knew where her passions beckoned her: to the classroom.
An arts education goes far beyond a stage or a canvas, Malek said.
“An arts education is the opportunity for students to learn how to apply knowledge, learn skills, and develop techniques to express ideas or creatively solve problems artistically, musically, or for business skill development,” she said.
After years in the classroom, Malek joined the Iowa Department of Education in 2000. Her move to the department, Greiner said, enabled Malek’s unique talents to be spread to a statewide audience.
“No one will know the full impact that Rosanne Malek has had on music education in Iowa or nationally,” Greiner said. “Through her tireless, vigilant efforts she has truly established herself as Iowa’s Guardian at the Gate for music education.”