For me, the path to becoming an educator was clear. I remember my first day of school and then coming home and playing school. I did this every day of my childhood. I wanted to be a teacher. When I was in kindergarten I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, when I was in first grade it was a first grade teacher, I'm not going to type this all out because that would be forever, you see where I'm going with this...one day everything change.
Her name is Wendy Dooly. She was my elementary music teacher at Ballman Elementary in Fort Smith, Arkansas. One day when I was in fifth grade she told me to try out for the school's honor choir. I had no idea at the time that one conversation would completely change my life, sometimes I even wonder if Ms. Dooly knew that conversation would completely change my life. I think that she just saw and heard a girl that very loudly(yes I am a loud mouth, shocking) loved singing. I was in fifth grade I was more concerned with the Spice Girls and what was happening on 7th Heaven (let's pause for a moment and remember the greatest that was 7th Heaven). I always enjoyed music class, it was always fun for me, but when I started to sing in a choir things changed.
Singing in a choir started to change my spirit. I found joy in it. At the time I was really struggling in school, not in everything but Math started to become a problem for me. I felt like I was a complete idiot because I couldn't do all the Math things that my friends could do. Our choir practices happened after my Math class. So I would always go to rehearsals feeling pretty dumb, but when I left rehearsals I felt like the smartest kid on the planet. In those moments, I felt okay to be the creative little loud mouth that so many have grown to love.
It wasn't in that choir that I decided that I wanted to be a choir teacher, but it was because of being in that choir I choose to take choir in junior high and then in high school, which lead to me discovering my calling and my passion for choral education.
So Ms. Dooly, thank you for making me join choir. Thank you for seeing and hearing something in me. You didn't just influence my life, but because of that influence it lives on in how I influence my students. I feel bad that after elementary school I lost contact with you, but I'm so thankful for you.
Oh by the way.....elementary music teachers, thank you!!!!!! You make my job possible. You lay the foundations and you get kids excited about music. You encourage kids to take my class, and you help them fall in love with music. I don't say it enough but thank you for what you do! Because it was an elementary music teacher that changed my life. You are changing lives, every single day!