BECOMING MNSOM’S FIRST PRINCIPAL AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE SCHOOL
The financial hardships of the pandemic meant that the school ended up saying goodbye to both employees and students during 2020. With all of the changes, I had to do everything in my power to keep us afloat. It felt like the high sea was raging and all of us at the school had our oars in the water paddling desperately. We managed not to sink, but there was no one commanding the ship.
A commander is exactly what the school needs to grow and best serve the children we teach, which is why I’m retiring from teaching to become Minnesota School of Music’s first principal.
If this is a shock, know that it was a little shocking to me at first, too. I’ve been teaching in classrooms for over 18years, and it will be a bummer to not be working directly with the students anymore. The moment you help a child through a challenge and see a profound change in their functioning is something I’ve always cherished and will definitely miss.
But I’m excited to take a break and have the opportunity to plan for the school’s future. For six months, I was teaching individualized, one-on-one lessons with 70 students every week. That’s the workload of three teachers, and giving each student the same amount of energy while working seven days a week was extremely challenging.I have a duty both to my family and the school to know what my limits are and to make sure we have a team strong enough for us to all take care of ourselves and our students.
Building that team is what I’ve been focused on. We’ve already hired new teachers and intend to hire more. We’re different from most private music schools(where the norm is for teachers to work as contractors without training, oversight, or mentorship). We’re proud that all of our teachers are employees, which allows us to have core values, training protocols, customer service expectations, and ongoing learning opportunities.
Teaching is what I do best, and I still plan to use those skills in my new role as principal — this time, instructing the teachers. Like many music teachers, when I entered this field in 2003, I had no teaching experience or credentials. Since then, I’ve learned this industry very well, and I believe I’m uniquely gifted to lead this team and ensure that other teachers don’t struggle as I did through a decade of teaching without any guidance.
You may be nervous about your child getting a new music instructor, but
“The moment you help a child
through a challenge and see
a profound change in them
functioning is something I’ve
always cherished and will
we have the highest standards for our teachers — and those aren’t just empty words. Before we bring a new teacher on staff, they have to teach two lessons to my children. That’s the amount of care and preparation that goes into our school: I won’t put your child in a room with someone if I don’t feel comfortable putting my own child with them.
After a hard year, the school is healthy, with enrollment up to around 400students and new services being introduced (see Page 2). I couldn’t have done any of this without our first office manager, John, who picked up key tasks like admissions and scheduling; he’s the reason I’m not going back to the front desk. And we couldn’t have done it without those of you who stuck with us through tough times. Thank you for all of your support; MnSOM is about to get better than ever.