Santa Barbara County Education Office names Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for 2021

The Santa Barbara County Education Office is pleased to name Elizabeth Caruso as the 2021 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year. Caruso is a music teacher at Monroe Elementary School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. She will succeed Bree Jansen, English and performing/visual arts teacher at Lompoc High School in the Lompoc Unified School District.

Recognizing her students’ broad interests and talents, and the importance of music education, Ms. Caruso created the Monroe School Choir three years ago for students in grades 4-6. The choir has since performed for a number of community events including the Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s fundraisers. The vocal group has become a unifying force that reflects the diversity of all Monroe families with enthusiastic performances that involve audience participation, folk dance, and repeated choral refrains that celebrate multiple cultural traditions.

“The joy of making music exudes at her performances, and both the children and parents leave beaming,” said Adams Elementary music teacher Brett Larsen, winner of 2017 Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Additionally, Ms. Caruso brought the BRAVO! free afterschool music instruction program to Monroe School in 2018. Through Ms. Caruso’s vision and passion, every BRAVO! elementary student musician has the opportunity to enhance and enrich their lives through music twice weekly.

“Every time I go into Liz’s classroom, students are not only engaged through moving, dancing, rhyming, singing, or playing an instrument, they are engaged and enveloped in a community of compassion, respect, and love,” said Monroe Principal Brian Naughton. “Wherever you find Liz on campus, you’ll find her reaching out to help, affirm or lift up our students, families, and staff.”

“We are honored to recognize Liz for the impact she has on her students,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido. “Her work underscores the importance of performing arts and the impact it has on youth in our schools. We are grateful for our partnership with the Santa Barbara Bowl, which continues to prioritize education through sponsorships like the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year Award.”

This award was created in 2015, as a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Education Office and the Santa Barbara Bowl through the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Education Outreach, which are dedicated to supporting performing arts education in the community. 

“Santa Barbara Bowl Outreach is dedicated to ensuring all students have access to the arts. Elizabeth’s continued dedication to the future artists of the world is inspiring for the entire Santa Barbara community,” said Karen Kerns, Chair Outreach Committee.

Caruso, who has been a music teacher for 13 years, will be recognized throughout the 2020-2021 school year along with other award-winning educators from Santa Barbara County.  

“The Santa Barbara Bowl works hand in hand with many community organizations to help enrich the lives of everyone,” added Rick Boller, the Bowl Foundation’s Executive Director. “By leveraging the success of the Bowl’s Concert Seasons, we can honor incredible teachers like Elizabeth Caruso, Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year and support programs like the Instrument Fund, Community Ticket Subsidy, and annual grants, providing universal access to the world of performing arts.”