More Than a Music TeacherI write this post with a heavy heart because I know no matter what I write in this post it will fail to adequately express how I feel. One of my all-time favorite people is battling cancer and is currently at home receiving hospice care. I am frantically typing these words in a hope that she will get to read them because I haven't expressed to her enough what an impact she had in my life.
With that being said, I dedicate this post to the amazing Mrs. Connie Meek.
Mrs. Meek taught choir at Crawfordsville High School. I first met her when my brother Jason was in high school and she was his teacher. I would go on to have Mrs. Meek as a teacher from the time I was in 8th grade choir, until the day I graduated high school. I had her for more classes than any other teacher in my educational career.
Now I love music. I love playing music and I love singing. However, there is no way I would have taken that many years of choir if I didn't have an amazing teacher. What made her so amazing? First of all, there is no doubt in my mind, or anyone's, that she loved teaching. I can not imagine all the hours she put into us as students between her full schedule of classes, musicals, Pride (which is a club about being drug free), and everything else that goes along with being a teacher. Most importantly, she loved us students. I can't tell you the number of times she pulled me aside when I was having problems and talked to me. She loved us and I loved her for it.
My mind is being flooded with memories. Even now I can see the smile on her at the end of a choir concert. The look of joy she would have because the way we sounded on day one of learning a song compared to where we were on concert day was always light years apart. It was never a look of pride in herself for taking this group of kids and making us sound wonderful. It was always, at least to me, a look that said, I'm so proud of you and look what you can accomplish when you work hard and believe. It's a look I've tried to express to my own students and children.
I remember all the times I got to sing the national anthem and even to this day I can't hear or sing it without going into my bass part. Well, I at least try to go into my bass part. Every time I hear somebody sing and the words say "don't you" but it sounds more like "don't chew" because they didn't enunciate properly, I think of her. Even though I'm not in any choir or part of any singing group, I will still find myself singing the warmups we did in choir. Every time I hear the Imperial Death March I don't just think of Star Wars. I also think, "uh oh, somebody just got caught chewing gum in choir." There are several songs we sang in choir that I will still break out into at random times. Peg Leg Pete, Every Time I Feel The Spirit, and Calendar Girls, just to name a few.
One of my favorite high school moments happened because of Mrs. Meek. I was not nearly as outgoing as I wanted to be in high school. If I'm being honest, I had a very low self-esteem. I never thought I was good enough. My senior year was a down year in the men section in concert choir. A few seniors opted out for whatever reason and I was the only male singer who had any concert choir experience. We had a bunch of freshmen and their ever-changing voices, plus a few upperclassmen who might have been in choir before but this was their first time in concert choir. I actually had a scheduling conflict because I was a calculus student and it was only offered at the same time as concert choir. I convinced my school to let me drive a few miles down the road to the next high school and take calculus there at the end of each day so I could still be in choir. It was a great year, with lots of great memories. At the end of the year we always had awards. Mrs. Meek was handing out the top award for the year. I couldn't believe it when she called my name. I wasn't the choir president, I didn't consider myself to be a popular kid, and I certainly wasn't the best singer in choir. She later told that she gave me the award because I stuck with her and worked so hard with all the guys all year long. I've never forgotten that feeling. It was a feeling that very few teachers ever made me have but it was one that I had frequently around Mrs. Meek. It was a feeling of pride in my
Hardly anything can match the feeling of somebody believing in you and how it causes you to believe in yourself. She never gave up on me. She never gave up on us. It's a feeling I tried my hardest to pass on to my students. It's a feeling I do everything I can to make sure my own children have.
These words are not enough. I read over them and I know I've fallen short. How do you put this much appreciation for an individual into words? I hope some of Mrs. Meek's former students read this and help me out here. I hope others share their thoughts.
Thank you Mrs. Meek! You did more than teach me how to sing. You taught me more than notes and lyrics. You taught me how to love what you're doing. You taught me how to love students as if they were your own kids. You taught me how to work hard and to never give up on something or someone you love. It has been almost 17 years since you were my teacher but I'm still learning from you today.
Thank you Mrs. Meek.