Farmington music educator Daniel Fear earns statewide honor

Veteran of Farmington schools earns Art Administrator of the Year award

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Daniel Fear, the fine arts coordinator for the Farmington Municipal School District, understands that only a small percentage of the thousands of students he works with as the district’s fine arts coordinator will go on to pursue a career as a musician, painter, sculptor or other artistic type.

But that’s not the point of arts education, he said.

Fear’s job — and the job of the district’s art and music teachers — is to encourage students to learn to think creatively and express themselves in ways that extend beyond verbal communication. That helps build the problem-solving skills that will help those students become a vital part of the work force of the future, he said.

“The idea is to help them become more comfortable with themselves,” he said.

That’s a goal Fear apparently has been able to achieve with a great deal of regularity. In November, the Artesia native and New Mexico State University product was named the 2022 Art Administrator of the Year by the New Mexico Art Education Association during the organization’s fall conference in Albuquerque.

Fear has worked for Farmington schools since graduating from NMSU in 1999. He began his career as a band teacher at Heights and Mesa View middle schools while assisting at Piedra Vista High School, moving up the ladder while completing his master’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 2015. A year later, he became the district’s fine arts coordinator, a position through which he supports all the music and visual arts teachers throughout the district in their efforts to make sure all their students at every level are receiving access to arts education in a meaningful way.

Daniel Fear

Asked to grade his own performance in that regard, Fear said he believes he gets that job done more often than not. The fact that the district has been recognized as a National Association of Music Merchants Best Community for Music Education for six straight years and the New Mexico Music Educators Association’s District of Distinction three times during his tenure would seem to indicate that others would seem to assess his record more generously.

“I think it’s a journey,” he said. “I think there’s always work to be done to make sure every student has that opportunity every day.”

The challenge of meeting that goal – and the freedom to do the job the way he wanted to do it – is what has motivated him throughout his career, he said. Fresh out of college, Fear said he chose to pursue a job in Farmington because he believed the district offered him the best chance to forge his own path as a music instructor.

That turned out to be a wise decision, he said, noting the way the district consistently has supported and emphasized its arts programs over time.

“This is a well-deserved recognition of Mr. Fear’s years of dedication to fine arts,” Cody Diehl, the superintendent of Farmington schools, stated in the news release. “He began his journey as a fine arts administrator nearly seven years ago, but in the 24 years he has been with FMS, he has spent a great deal of time learning about art instruction and pedagogical approaches from some of the best educators in the state while collaborating with our art teachers in their classrooms. We congratulate him for this recognition and contribution to the district, where he has demonstrated extraordinary love and dedication to education.”

Fear’s work as an educator and administrator may be his focus, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing to enjoy himself as a tuba player. Fear is a member of several local music groups, including the Celebration Brass at the First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, the Southwest Civic Winds, the Kissmah Brass Band, the San Juan College Concert Band and Die Sech Polka Dots polka band.

He even has found time in the past to perform with the alumni marching band at NMSU, an experience that has brought him back into contact with some of his former students. That always makes him smile, he said.

“I’m proud of my students that have gone to pursue a music education,” he said. “You always have a special place in your heart for students who have gone on your career path.”

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 Support local journalism with a digital subscription: