When Empire Elementary School Principal Evelyn Allred needs a break from the daily grind, she knows she can find refuge in the school's band room.
"It's a safe haven for me," she said. "I go there and find my happy place."
But it wasn't always so calming. When Christina Bourne took over the program in 2003, there were seven students, most of whom couldn't afford instruments.
While they waited to find some, the students practiced playing the notes in the air.
Since then, Bourne has developed a benefactor program to supply each student at the largely underprivileged school with an instrument. The band has grown to 45 students, the largest in the district, and went from not being able to hold a beat six years ago to composing the school's song this year.
"Christina is there for the kids. She is the most upbeat, positive person," Allred told the school board Tuesday night when introducing Bourne as Empire Elementary School's Teacher of the Year.
The principals from each school in the Carson City School District introduced a top teacher, including a representative from professional development services.
From among them, Bourne was chosen as the district's Teacher of the Year.
"I'm thrilled," she said after the meeting. "I don't even know how to put it into words. I'm just completely amazed that I was given this honor."
The former Miss Nevada 2003, Bourne now mentors other pageant contestants. She also survived a pituitary tumor in her youth and speaks at medical conferences.
Bourne attended Fritsch Elementary School and Carson Junior High, graduating in 1997 from Carson High School.
She received both her bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Empire Elementary School also was the home of the 2007 Teacher of the Year LeAnn Morris. Morris went on to be named Nevada's Teacher of the Year as well.
"I expect Christina to do the same," Allred said.