Elicia Spencer: Musical Mentor

A Profile on Vista’s Most Diverse Music Teacher


Natalia Maverakis

Spencer poses with her flute and piano

Vista del Lago has a vast array of teachers that enjoy their jobs, and among these is the well-rounded Elicia Spencer, referred to as “bubbly” by sophomore Maggie Keller. Spencer is the campus’s Beginning Guitar, choir, band, and orchestra instructor, and is “always excited to teach.”

Growing up in Connecticut, Spencer was involved in band and choir in elementary, middle and high schools, and sang in her church choir as a teenager.

“I decided I wanted to teach music in middle school,” Spencer said, accrediting a band director  for inspiration.

Spencer, or “Spence” as she is often called by her students, attended California State University Stanislaus and majored in flute performance and music education, getting her bachelor’s degree and teaching credentials. She got her master’s degree in music education from Boston University. While in college, she marched in the school’s drum corps.

She held a part-time job as orchestra and choir teacher at Mills Middle School during her first two years at Vista. She also gave flute lessons during college and moved around as a “freelance teacher” in Modesto.

Spencer has taught music classes at Vista for five years, and this is her first official job. “After I graduated, I was looking for a high school position,” Spencer said. “It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life when I was told I was hired here.”

 Spencer enjoys “getting to collaborate with people of this age group … It’s really exciting to work with people who are pretty much adults … I can view [the students] as musicians.”

After observing any of Spencer’s classes, it is clear that many of her students adore her and her teaching methods.

She is “always very … supportive and … really constructive,” said freshman Beginning Guitar student Reijer den Dulk.

“[She is] overall, very exciting, very positive, [and] just makes everybody feel welcome,” senior Christian Guevara said. “…[Spencer is] still a kid at heart.”

 Keller, a band student, said that Spencer makes the class really fun, but she “can be serious … If you’re having problems, she’ll help you fix them.”

Spencer reflected this statement while explaining what she enjoys about teaching high schoolers.

 “Whenever students come to me with problems… it’s really rewarding to know I’m helping people,” Spencer said.

Spencer’s co-worker and Vista’s Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Masters Guitar, and Contemporary Music Ensemble teacher, Vince Martini, said, “She’s a teacher who likes to have a real positive and good learning environment. I think she’s a great addition to our music department …She and I collaborate really well together,” he said.

Spencer continues to play flute as well as percussion in the Folsom Symphony and has had many proud moments as a teacher and musician.  Her favorite times as a musician include her time playing in pit orchestras in Modesto, which occurred before she began working in Folsom. She also said that she likes playing in the Folsom Symphony.

As a musical director, Spencer had a hard time thinking of a just a few of her proudest moments. “Every year, the concerts that we do,” she said. “I get to watch you guys work so hard throughout the year, and then it comes down to one performance …It’s such a good feeling.”

She also commented on a recent competition in which a string quartet made up of all freshmen competed in the CMEA State Qualifying Solo Festival and placed by receiving the best possible rating. “Being in my fifth year, I don’t get a whole lot of firsts,” Spencer said. “That weekend was really special to me.”

Elicia Spencer is a dynamic power in the music department, and it will be impressive to see where her experience and skill lead her — and our students — in the years ahead.