Laura is a seasoned educator with over 35 years of experience. She recently retired after a long and successful career with Gilbert Public Schools in Gilbert, Arizona. Over the last three decades the town of Gilbert has seen tremendous growth. The increasing population meant new schools were being built each year and this gave Laura the opportunity to teach instrumental music at all levels; elementary, junior high, and high school. Ultimately, Mrs. Sopeland found her niche was working with young musicians. She spent the next twenty years primarily working with seventh and eighth graders. The junior high programs flourished under her direction and her students were recognized with numerous awards at district and state contests. In addition to directing her own bands, Mrs. Sopeland has also served as a guest conductor and clinician at local elementary festivals.
While teaching in Gilbert, Laura formed a partnership with area universities to serve as a mentor teacher for future music educators. That partnership allowed her to host a number of student teachers and interns, many of which later became valued colleagues. She has always considered her role as a mentor teacher to be one of the highlights of her career. Mrs. Sopeland is a recipient of the ASU Mentor Teacher Award, The American Legion Teaching Award and the Flynn Foundation Distinguished Educator Award.
Laura is originally from Iowa. She earned her music education degree from Truman University and taught seven years in her home state before moving to Arizona. Laura remains active as a performer. She plays clarinet with Tempe Winds and serves on the board as treasurer for the organization. When she is not engaged in something involving music, she likes to stay active with her husband David and their two daughters that also live in the area.