Kathy Briggs, SMA Fine Arts Leader Brings Home Prestigious Award

Kathy Briggs, SMA Fine Arts Leader Brings Home Prestigious Award

We are proud to announce that Kathy Briggs, St. Mary’s Academy (SMA) Fine Arts Department Chair and Director of the internationally renowned Marian Singers, was named the 2024 Outstanding Music Educator at the Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA) Conference earlier this month. Briggs, a long time SMA leader, exemplifies the criteria of this award which highlights outstanding achievement in the field of music education. Learn more about Kathy’s journey in education and how she continues to lead the way at SMA.

Since moving to Portland in 2006, Kathy has play an important role in the SMA community – leader of the award-winning choir program at St. Mary’s Academy. Kathy has revolutionized choir in Portland through her areas of expertise - treble choir, treble choir literature and the use of movement in the choral rehearsal. When winning the award, Kathy shared “I have such deep respect for my colleagues and their work – both at St. Mary’s and my music teacher friends across our state – that I don’t find what I do particularly outstanding… This now is my 25th year as a music teacher and receiving this award on this milestone year is truly very meaningful to me. I’m profoundly grateful.” 

St. Mary’s Academy President, Emily Becker shared “Since our founding nearly 165 years ago, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary have placed a high value on the importance of the arts in enhancing and expanding one’s heart and mind. Kathy’s extraordinary leadership of the Marians program and her impact on our entire performing arts program is unprecedented. We are so grateful for her talents, her gifts, and her passion. We couldn’t be prouder of Kathy for receiving this deserving honor.” 

When walking down the halls on the second floor of SMA, joy always radiates from the Performing Arts Center (PAC). This joy and care are fundamental to the success of Kathy’s program and how she supports the growth of all fine arts students. Under Kathy’s leadership, The Marian Singers have become trailblazers for treble choirs. They were the first treble choir in state history to compete in the Oregon State Choir Championships at the 6A level and in 2015 became the first choir of this type to win the state title. Outside of these accolades, the choir has also performed on stage at the Arlene Schnitzer Auditorium, Keller Auditorium, have travelled to New York, Seattle, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, and were invited to perform twice for President and Mrs. Obama at the White House (2012, 2013). These key accomplishments all stem from Kathy’s thought leadership, tenacity, and love of music.  

According to SMA Principal, Liane Rae “Kathy's passion and enthusiasm for music and how it connects us to one another are inspiring. She sets high expectations for herself and her students and deeply understands the foundational importance that music plays in our lives. Her love of music connects to every student and staff member at SMA through teaching our freshmen music appreciation, working with cast members of our musicals, and playing music for our Mass celebrations. Her talents and appreciation of music are woven into the fabric of our community.”  

Kathy, the music appreciation, love, and joy that you bring to SMA is at the heart of what the Sisters did when founding SMA and what we are charged to do as an institution daily