St. Elizabeth of Hungary's New Music Teacher travels through 11 Countries to Land in Oak Cliff
Being raised in a family where music was always admired, Milla Nyaga began her piano studies at the age of seven.
“Music is what I am, everything else is what I do,” she says.
Born in Moscow, Russia, she was raised to love and play music. While her younger sister has been working in the financial field, Milla always knew she wanted to be a performer.
She graduated from Professional Music High School in 1999, then in 2004 from Music college. In 2008, she finished in the Music Conservatory in Russia with a Master’s Degree in Instrumental Music Performance including additional qualifications as a Concert Performer, a Chamber Ensemble Performing Artist, an Accompanist, and a Music K-12 Teacher. And finally this year, 2017, she earned a Masters of Education with Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction with All-Level Certification in Music from Houston Baptist University.
Sadly, her life wasn’t always full of joyful music. When she was 18, she lost her father and four members of her family in a car accident. She got through that tough time with “Lots and lots of prayer.”
She met her husband in a Dance Club in Siberia, but almost missed her chance at true love. “He gave me his e-mail address, but then I lost it in my purse,” Milla says with a laugh. For two weeks, he asked everyone who was at the Dance Club that night about Milla, hoping to reconnect. Milla eventually found his e-mail in her purse and sent him a short message and her phone number. He immediately followed up with a phone call and the two were soon inseparable, and then married. The couple has a daughter, a 3rd grader, at St. Elizabeth’s.
Her husband’s job included lots of moves all over Europe, and the big one a few years ago, to America.
While in Houston in 2014 she worked at Blackburn Music School, as a Piano and Choir Teacher, instructing students of all ages and abilities. She also volunteered at Herman Center in Sugar Land, providing piano lessons to elderly. And she had a chance to accompany the Choir of Dulles Middle School conducted by Gregory McDaniel. Then in 2015, she worked at St. Stephens Episcopal School in Central Houston as a Teacher Assistant and a Piano Teacher. But her goal was to be a full-time music teacher, so she searched for a position that would allow her to use all her teaching and music skills.
Having won numerous local Russian piano and music pedagogical competitions while living there, she competed and took second place at the American International Competition which gave her a great memory: the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2015.
Armed with her latest degree, a Masters Of Education from Houston Baptist University, Milla searched the internet and found the opening at St. Elizabeth’s and immediately e-mailed the principal. After a decade of traveling, and having lived in 11 different countries, Milla hopes to stay put in oak Cliff. “I love this school so much,” she says of St. Elizabeth’s.
Her principal feels the same way. “She found the music opening on the internet and the moment I had a chance to hire her, I did!” Principal Rachel Dzurilla says. “I told her to apply to the Diocese and as soon as her application was completed, I offered her this job!”
What makes Milla such a dedicated teacher? She says, “I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring motivation and stimulating atmosphere in which they can grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially.”
She continues, “Every classroom presents a unique community of learners and learning styles.” She believes in the progressive philosophy of education, and explains, “I am convinced that music has a liberating effect on the mind and increases the child's ability to deal better with all the other subjects of the school curriculum and real life.”
Milla believes Music should be taught “to everyone without exception. Singing alone and with others, performing on an instrument, improvising melodies, composing and arranging, reading music, listening and describing music, performing, understanding relationships between music, history, and culture: all of that are components, which help to develop the aesthetics in the individual.”
She feels a music curriculum--which includes performance students—helps those performing to gain self-efficacy and the ability to express their emotions when they participate in music making. It even helps special needs students. “They are all allowed being creative without being wrong.”
She believes in her students and says, “I’m sure I have met students who definitely will be famous!”
Her personal dream is to keep teaching, and maybe one day, win the National Teacher of the Year award because she is determined to be the best she can be, and hopefully, “the most outstanding music teacher in America!”
Want to learn more? See Milla Nyaga’s website at http://saintspride.com/
You can learn her philosophy and see pictures of her teaching children as young as four and five years old in pre-K class and kindergarten.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary School has ongoing enrollment and openings in Pre-k3 through 8th grades.
To tour the school at 4019 S. Hampton Road, Dallas, TX 75224 call (214) 331-5139 x 21 or contact Sandy Walkley, Administrative Assistant: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Open House dates for 2017-18 school year.