Today is for the people who have gotten us to where we are today, or at least have taught us the skills to get ourselves here and have encouraged us along the way. As someone who loves to learn and is so excited to be an educator in the future, I’ve had amazing bonds with teachers over the years and have fond memories from all of my school years so far. Sure, some teachers are lazy and useless but in the next classroom over is a person who has devoted their life to improving the lives of students for years and years and goes above and beyond every day. And although I’ve had too many amazing teachers over the years to recount them all, there are a few that jump out as too special to pass up recognition.
Ms. Vomocil was one of the most frustrating teachers I’ve ever had and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to truly forgive her for giving me a B just to teach me that it’s okay not to be perfect. However, these 7th grade memories have passed onto immense fondness and any time I’m lucky enough to run into her at functions or get a card in the mail, I miss her so much! I’ve met few people so passionate about such a broad spectrum of things: Africa, salsa dancing, math… And she still owes me some salsa dancing lessons for the summer work setting up her classroom over the years.
Mrs. Kahler is the one who inspired my love of the French language and has given me such an immense, broad, useful base for my adventures in the language now that I’m in college and have traveled. Having exchange students, many of whom were French, I’ve always been interested in the language and the culture but the way that it was presented with so much care and enthusiasm sunk it straight to my heart. She is so supportive of students, and tough on them when they deserve it, and every time I’m in class thinking, “I knew that!” I only have Ms. Godby/Kahler to thank. Every silly unit of vocabulary when I thought, “why would I need to know how to say ‘to vomit’ or ‘maple syrup’ or ‘to punch a ticket?” has come back sometime over the years and I’ve been so grateful to her for insisting it’s worth knowing more than the basics.
Mr. Welsh. Papa Welsh. The Welshinator. The most hard working, devoted, will-kill-himself-for-his-students, band director I’ve ever met and have had the immense privilege of working with for my four, too short, high school years. There’s literally nothing that I could say here that could wrap up everything that he has done, wants to do, and will do to improve the lives of his students, create the most wonderful environment to foster true musicianship and growth, and inspire students to devote themselves to perfecting their crafts. Thanks to him, AP Music Theory was music theory, music history, science, math, architecture, art history, foods, and student teaching all wrapped up in one. I have never met another person that I could learn so much from in one simple conversation and if there is another person out there, I still might not enjoy talking to them as much.
The most recent addition to the all-star is list is my oboe professor Karen Strand. I’ve had other oboe teachers over the years and while I owe them immensely for my growth, nothing compares to the progress I’ve made in this one year here at PSU. She teaches not only through instruction, but by experience. Today in oboe chamber, she said, “You guys sound so good, I’m just going to grab a coffee and come back to see your progress. You don’t need me.” And it’s that freedom to discover and try new things without fear of discipline or finding a ‘right/wrong’ in music that has encouraged me to take chances and find more personal discipline in my musical journey. I cannot wait for the remaining three years to work with her and have quite a few laughs along the way.
And although these amazing people have so immensely impacted my life, there’s still one that tops them all. My mother is the one who has inspired me to follow in her footsteps and go on to teach music, and maybe one day take over her program. As a mother she’s taught me every lesson along the way and helped me avoid pit falls and always supported me climbing some uncertain mountains. And as a teacher I’ve seen, my entire life, how much she loves her job and I want to be just like her.