So many wonderful teachers cross my path each and every year. There’s something remarkable about almost all of them, but when I met this teacher and heard that she sang Happy Birthday to one of her students in full-on operatic soprano, I knew I’d run across an extraordinary teacher.
I got to know her over the last months of the year, and learned that she has always been a singer, for a long as she can remember. She sang in church choir from preschool through college, and learned several musical instruments over those years, even teaching herself to play guitar.
Her students love her musicality. But what I see that her students will cherish even more over the years is her example. “I had to learn to get over stage fright early on, and the only thing that helped me was to get right back up and do it again. I entered songwriting contests. I went to a convention and let other songwriters critique my songs.” Crystal is a living growth mindset, seeking feedback always and growing constantly. Her mantra is “You never know what will happen unless you try.”
What she’s trying next is groundbreaking. Working with a publishing house, she is “writing the lyrics to a song (book) about a subject taught in grades K-2. I will look at the standards they want . . . and then write the words in song form to help students learn and internalize the material. Then I also get to record the song I will write for them, which is a first for the company! Never have they ever hired an author to write and record the same book.”
Crystals’s experience is available to anyone, really. I’m not saying that anyone can land a groundbreaking publishing deal, but listen to her approach: “I pursued a lead and was proactive. That does not always lead you places. This time it did. I have tenacity and a drive to try, which are two things I love about myself and hope to pass on to my kids. Music makes me happy. Sharing my songs with people make me happy. Being a librarian makes me happy. Integrating your loves and interests into your lives wherever you can will make you the happiest.”
Crystal is one of the wisest teachers I know. I’m proud to be a teacher alongside her. Her perspective on the relationship between her love of music and her love of teaching is incredibly powerful advice for so many. “Sometimes our passion is not our calling. I am not meant to be a rock star. I am meant to be a librarian and share my love of reading with students, my staff, and my community. But, I am passionate about music. And that passion makes me a better librarian and a better colleague or co worker. It also makes me – ME. Share that willingly with your students. They will love you for it and will always remember you.”