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As a former student, mentee, and now colleague of Mrs. McNiff's, I can attest to her impeccable leadership abilities,especially in the field of holistic and student-centered instruction and curriculum cultivation. She is a hardworking, detail oriented power house of knowledge dedicated to providing the most beneficial and practical structure and materials to help her students learn about themselves and the subjects they study. She possesses an
astoundingly diverse base of knowledge and curiosity including music, medieval history, child development, and world culture which she continuously seeks to integrate into and expand her curriculum.

While I met Mrs. McNiff first in 2014, I fully began to understand her passion and dedication to education in 2016. Mrs. McNiff saw a discrepancy between the demands placed on music education majors in their coursework and the skill set vital to success in their fields, so she single-handedly put together a nationally sought after program for undergraduate students to safely work towards honing the practical skills necessary to not only succeed, but thrive in their first jobs. She utilized all her connections to organize a 50+ member ensemble, collaborative musicians, world-class clinicians, as well as doing the promoting, marketing, being artistic director, board, and taking on the role of education role model and choral and educational clinician herself.

Additionally, Mrs. McNiff possesses an incredibly diverse and dynamic skill set and experience to give her the adaptability to meet the demand of her classes as a whole as well as each individual student. She has a great ability to problem solve, work on the fly, and strategize and plan for both short term and long goals.


Perhaps most unique of all is her ability to utilize the lens of a human and an educator, always asking: What is the best for my student’s experience? Mrs. McNiff is a champion of her student’s needs, creates projects that seek to create more diverse and whole human beings who are curious about the world and are empowered and educated to be able to seek answers for themselves and see others both for their similarities and regardless of their differences.


When faced with conflict, tension, uncertainty, and even success, Mrs. McNiff is always the catalyst in conversation for feedback. Mrs. McNiff never presents or delivers anything less than well considered preparation and methodology,exceptional leadership skills and ambitions, and very calculated and precise understanding of educational power dynamics, communication, and realistic, achievable goals.

Kimberly Waigwa

Artistic Director, Phoenix Women's Chorale

Artistic Director, Desert Voices