Even though I've been out of school for more than a week now, I still have trouble processing the massive gift God dumped in my lap for the last nine months. Teaching orchestra is something that wasn't even on my radar. I had volunteered to substitute teach so the students could get a good rehearsal even when the teachers needed to be absent.
Just a few weeks before school began last August, I accepted the job for one semester. We had already begun our homeschool year. "Choates can do hard things" rang in our ears as each of us made adjustments. Then I accepted another semester of teaching these amazing students in the program where Aaron and I both grew up. I was the proverbial finger in the dike, giving the students continuity until a permanent teacher could be found.
And my heart was totally consumed by these students. See that plaque above? It's the Director's Award for the junior high. What you can't read is the very first name on it: Aaron Choate. And a few spaces down, my sister, Rachel, claims a spot. What a legacy of character and outstanding musicianship in this small town in Arkansas! And I got to be a part of it for a short time.
These students played their hearts out. Each concert, each school. They learned more than music, they learned how endurance and perseverance makes each of us stronger. They learned that teamwork is valuable.
My colleagues...what can I say?
They have supported and encouraged me through the steep learning curve of this year. We have laughed together and shared frustrations and learned from each other. Our personalities, strengths, and weaknesses have woven together to form a strong, safe, invincible bond. We have truly accomplished much this year.
A few days after the junior high concert, my beginners played. What a joy to watch them move from knowing absolutely nothing about their instruments to playing a fabulous concert. I'm so proud of their work ethic!
My last concert to conduct was the seventh graders. All four middle school around town combined forces to play with a mighty big and beautiful sound.
Oh, how I'm going to miss seeing these special kiddos every day. God had a way of crossing our paths with people that change our lives and who burrow their way into our hearts.
See this beautiful mama in the white shirt. A long time ago, in this same little town, she was my first student. I was in high school, toying with the idea of becoming an orchestra teacher, and my own conductor suggested I try teaching private lessons.
Five lovely junior high students signed up to be my guinea pigs. This year, I was honored to teach the daughter of my first student. She is also a cellist and made each day brighter for me. You never know what God might be up to!