I’ve been absent from blogging lately, and from my #oklaed community. A combination of things in work and life in general have demanded most of my time and energy. Still, I have always found it difficult to back away from a challenge. So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I find myself pausing from the typical preparations to reflect on the many ways in which I am blessed, some of which are the result of my calling in education.
As a teacher, I am thankful for many things today. I’m thankful I go to a job I love every day. I’m thankful for the students I find there, willing and eager to learn. I’m thankful for supportive administrators. One took time from her busy schedule to sell hat passes yesterday to help the music department raise funds for all-state. One listened to me vent for an hour in her office last week. I’m thankful for the parents who support our program in a variety of ways—like driving to Okarche on Monday morning to pick up 280 dozen cinnamon rolls for delivery.
Are you seeing a theme here? What I’m thankful for most in education are the people.
Over the years, I have been asked numerous times why I chose to go into the teaching field in music instead of performance. For me, it was never a choice. I like music. I’m good at it. I enjoyed more than my fair share of accolades in that arena.
Those two things are at the heart of my calling to teaching. The desire to pursue a performance career was never as strong as the desire to know and help people. And I am thankful for the many people I’ve come to know and love through my teaching.
I began my teaching career over ten years ago at Choctaw High School. I’m still in touch with several of my students from my three years there. Two of them are married to each other, and operate a very successful photography business now. I called on them a few years ago to take pictures of my choirs for the yearbook. One of my Choctaw kids choreographs my show choirs and musicals. She just got engaged, and my husband will officiate the service for her wedding next year. At some point, she ceased being “my student” and began being my “colleague”, and more importantly, my friend. While at Choctaw, one of my most important professional relationships emerged. The theater teacher there is still a close friend, and one with whom I correspond frequently on school and personal matters.
I began the vocal music program at a new school in my home district of Moore. The group you see pictured here is a special group of kids for me. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to teach and mentor most of these young people for three or four years. One young lady sent me a “save-the-date” for her wedding next year. Some are already married, and a few are new parents. One is in his second year of missionary work. One is studying vocal performance at one of the most competitive fine arts programs in the state and gave her junior recital last week. One posts videos of her band on occasion. She’s a part of the ACM at UCO—one of at least two of my former students currently in that program. I bumped into another student last week at church—she’s singing in the choir there.
Some of them are graduating from college this year. I know one will be a nurse. One is completing a degree in music therapy and hopes to fulfill her dream of working with special needs children.
Two are student teaching next semester, and will graduate with degrees in music education. I don’t know if they will stay in Oklahoma to start their teaching careers, but isn’t it pretty to think so?
I spent only one year in Tecumseh, but I keep up with several of those kids and a few of their parents on facebook. I was also fortunate to work for a gifted administrator there, and I learned a lot about leadership from him. Even just one year in this world is enough time to forge relationships that stay with us forever. And as I look to the future in my new home at Carl Albert High School, I see those connections already forming.
I could go on and on and on about the kids I’ve taught. About how they’re “my” kids, then, now, and forever. I am grateful they give me the opportunity to live out my calling through them. I am flattered when they look to me as a mentor. I’m blown away when they choose to follow me into this crazy, rollercoaster world of education.
I’m grateful for the music. Make no mistake. But most of all, I’m thankful for the people who give the music to me.