Happening now! Brendon Elliott rehearses with the VSO. #VSOtour2014

Happening now! Brendon Elliott rehearses with the VSO. #VSOtour2014

Today is the last day of the Music in Our Schools Month and our last day of honoring the Virginia Symphony’s 2014 Outstanding Music Teachers in Hampton Roads. Thank you to all our music educators throughout the region for all you do to inspire out next generation through the art of music.

Today we would like to honor Ms. Katherine Wease, the Orchestra Director at Western Branch Intermediate School and Ms. Mary Wick, Director of the School of Arts at Norfolk Academy.

One of Ms. Wease’s orchestra parents shared why she is such a loved teacher:

Mrs. Wease is a wonderful part of the Western Branch Orchestra family.  She has wonderful and engaging programs for her students.  She inspires her students with her knowledge of music.

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School administration, a faculty member and a student shared why Ms. Wick is such an outstanding teacher:

I first met Mary Wick when she hired me to teach piano at Norfolk Academy in 1997. Mary is the coordinator of the adjunct faculty at Norfolk Academy in addition to her teaching duties. I have always found Mary to be extremely efficient and supportive. She is highly organized and is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure the department is kept informed of any schedule changes. I have always observed and admired what a versatile teacher and musician Mary is. She is always highly involved in school activities and the students and school are always her first priority. Mary has a great rapport with both students and parents.  From organizing and working through scheduling problems at the start of each school year to planning and organizing the annual National Piano Guild Auditions, the annual Honors Recital and the annual Marathon Music recitals, Mary is always on top of everything. She works tirelessly to make sure every event takes place without a hitch.

No doubt about it, Mrs. Wick counts among my favorite teachers.  I’ve been taking private lessons on the sax from her since the sixth grade and, of course, was in “her” band throughout middle school.  In fact, I attribute my appreciation for music and commitment to the saxophone to her and will surely still be thinking of her when I’m blowing on that horn years from now.  Mrs. Wick has had an influence on my life beyond music as well.  And there’s nothing that I couldn’t talk with her about.  A particularly difficult test or paper, my senior speech, where I’m applying to college, what I want to do after college—we’ve had deep conversations about each of them.  Good food is another of our topics as we’ve been swapping restaurant stories for years!  I’ve learned so much from her about what is important in life—like always doing your best work and being comfortable in your own skin and looking at the positive side of things.  Wherever life takes me, I know I’ll never forget Mrs. Wick.  She has been a role model, a mentor, a good friend. Thank you, Mrs. Wick.

I have known Mary now for 13 years during my tenure as headmaster at Norfolk Academy.  Mary’s tenure, however, trumps mine as she has been a faithful and committed servant of our school for 32 years.  She has taught individual lessons, music appreciation, band classes, and choral classes, as well as having served as a musical director for a number of our mainstage winter musicals.  She also directs our middle school band and our middle school chorus. In her “spare time,” Mary oversees and administers our adjunct music faculty and individual, private music lessons for our students—some 250-300 students participate.  Quite simply, Mary has built a music empire for us at Norfolk Academy and done so without a hint of ego, self-absorption or negativity.  She possesses a remarkably quick and incisive wit and a buoyancy and positive energy that are infectious—and so important to shaping a positive world view in a child. All of her remarkable attributes make her a sterling colleague, too.  Mary is retiring at the end of this year, and her loss will be a profound one for her students, colleagues, and our school. She’s been a treasure here for 32 years.

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Thank you Music Teachers for all you do!!!